Details of our next speaker - coming to you in a fortnight!
EMELYNE GODFREY : AGAINST THE SHADOWS: VICTORIAN CRIME WAVES AND THE CRAZE OF SELF-DEFENCE
At 5.15pm on 3 December 1867, Thomas Obrun, chief oil cooper at St Katharine Docks, was passing the railway arches at Lucas Street, Mile End, when he was grabbed from behind by the throat. His assailants threw him to the ground and silenced him while they extracted 1 shilling and 9 pence from his torn clothing. When he returned to consciousness he staggered home, bloodied with broken ribs, to his aghast wife. Obrun had not just fallen prey to robbers. He was also a victim of a series of crimewaves that swept across the country and, seemingly, across the globe: the garrotting panics.
This talk looks at the responses to the crimewaves of the late-Victorian and Edwardian eras, from legislative changes to the weird and somewhat gruesome weapons of self-defence created by the man in the street and the personal responses of police officers themselves.
But, as cultural norms shifted away from the ready use of everyday violence, various literary giants and social commentators began to consider alternative responses to everyday aggression. It was a social change which boosted the development of martial arts in Britain and the energetic adoption of Japanese jujitsu by the militant suffragettes, a subject which has received much media attention over the last decade or so.
How did women write about personal safety? Emelyne Godfrey will explore the nineteenth-century equivalent of #MeToo and show how varied womenís responses to and perceptions of physical danger were, as they are indeed today. There was, for instance, one philanthropist who was more nervous about being stalked in the West End than she was walking in the streets in the East End in the wake of the Ripper murders.
Since graduating from Birkbeck College, London in 2008, Dr Emelyne Godfrey now works as a freelance writer specialising in the 19th century. Her books include "Masculinity, Crime and Self-Defence in Victorian Literature: Duelling with Danger" (2010), which looks at crime-fighting from the seldom-explored viewpoint of the civilian city-goer, and a sister volume, "Femininity, Crime and Self-Defence in Victorian Literature and Society: From Dagger-Fans to Suffragettes" (2013).
Emelyne is currently writing her next book, "Kitty and the Cats: Mrs Pankhurst's Suffragette Bodyguard and the Police Officers on her Trail", which tells the story of Emily Katherine Willoughby Marshall, a member of the 'Bodyguard', a group of 25-30 women assigned to protect Mrs Pankhurst from re-arrest under the Prisoners (Temporary Discharge for Ill-health) Act 1913, known as the Cat and Mouse Act. Katherine became Emmeline Pankhurst's close friend and was the chief organiser of her memorial, standing today in Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster.
Emelyne is a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and has contributed to History Today and BBC History magazines, and has appeared on BBC television and radio. She is the current Chairman of the HG Wells Society.
When Chief Inspector Donald Swanson was hand-picked by Commissioner Sir Charles Warren on 15 September 1888 to lead the Scotland Yard investigation into the recent murder of Annie Chapman in Hanbury Street, neither expected the series of Whitechapel murders to continue well into that year and beyond.
Swanson was tasked with reviewing all the papers relating to each successive murder by the so-called 'Jack the Ripper' - witness statements, reports from local H Division officers, letters from the public - looking for links and clues to the killer's identity. Each potential lead had to be followed up, with many dead-ends.
The scope of this investigation would not only include the so-called 'canonical five', but also possible victims Alice McKenzie and Frances Coles, the unexplained death of Rose Mylett, the attack on Annie Farmer and the disturbing discovery of a headless torso in a Pinchin Street railway arch.
In his talk Adam will look at Donald Swanson's appointment by Commissioner Warren, and examine three cases which saw the involvement of the detective as part of the Ripper scare in the years 1890-94, which included a letter received from 'Jack the Ripper', the starting point of a long-standing suspect theory, and an assailant who bore a marked resemblance to the man seen with Elisabeth Stride by greengrocer Matthew Packer.
Adam Wood is Executive Editor of Ripperologist magazine, the leading publication on the Whitechapel murders. He is also Editor of the Journal of the Police History Society. Adam is finalising his biography of the subject of his talk, and SWANSON: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF A VICTORIAN DETECTIVE will be published in 2019. His book TRIAL OF PERCY LEFROY MAPLETON for the official Notable British Trials series will be released in December 2018. Adam is co-author of SIR HOWARD VINCENTíS POLICE CODE 1889 with Neil R A Bell. He runs non-fiction publishing house Mango Books.