Jack the Ripper Letter Mystery Solved
Credit: University of Manchester.
A forensic linguist from The University of Manchester who analysed letters supposedly signed by Jack the Ripper has concluded that two of the most famous examples were written by the same person.
The Whitechapel murders that terrorised London in 1888 are still remembered thanks to the legend of Jack the Ripper, who was never caught.
In addition to the gruesomeness of the murders, Jack the Ripper’s name and persona were popularised by more than 200 letters which were received following the murders. These letters are essentially what made him famous, and it has often been suggested that they were written by journalists to sell more newspapers.
Most of the letters signed ‘Jack the Ripper’ were – and still are - regarded as hoaxes. After the first four were received, the police decided to publish them, after which hoaxers began to send copycat letters claiming to be written by him. Therefore, forensic linguist Dr Andrea Nini decided to focus on two of the earliest letters - the ‘Dear Boss’ letter, in which the Jack the Ripper name was first written, and the ‘Saucy Jacky’ postcard.
He used modern techniques to analyse the letters, which uncovered certain shared distinctive linguistic constructions, such as the use of the phrasal verb to keep back (to withhold), in two of the most iconic early texts. He also found evidence that a link exists between these letters and another of the key texts in the case, the ‘Moab and Midian’ letter.
“I came across the Jack the Ripper letters a few years ago and I was surprised to know that there had not been any forensic linguistics analysis of them, so I thought that I could apply modern forensic linguistic techniques to uncover evidence about their author" said Dr Andrea Nini.
“My conclusion is that there is very strong linguistic evidence that these two texts were written by the same person. People in the past had already expressed this tentative conclusion, on the basis of similarity of handwriting, but this had not been established with certainty. I also found evidence that could link the author of these two letters to the so-called ‘Moab and Midian’ letter, which some people believe was a hoax created by the Central News Agency of London.”
“In addition to the historical value of my findings, they could help forensic linguists to better understand the important issue of individuality in linguistic production. Since all the hoaxers tried to mimic the style of the original ‘Jack the Ripper’, we can use the database of the letters to understand how people fake writing style - and how successful they are at imitation. The results indicate that it is very difficult to do so.”
This article has been republished from materials provided by The University of Manchester. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.
An authorship analysis of the Jack the Ripper letters. Andrea Nini, Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, fqx065, https://doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqx065.
Graphene on Toast, Anyone?News
Scientists who introduced laser-induced graphene (LIG) have enhanced their technique to produce what may become a new class of edible electronics. The lab is investigating ways to write graphene patterns onto food and other materials to quickly embed conductive identification tags and sensors into the products themselves.READ MORE
Adding Crushed Rock to Farmland Could Reduce CO2 and Protect Crops from DiseaseNews
Farming crops with crushed rocks could help to improve global food security and capture CO2 from the atmosphere, a new study has found. The pioneering research suggests that adding fast-reacting silicate rocks to croplands could capture CO2 and give increased protection from pests and diseases while restoring soil structure and fertility.READ MORE
Forensic Facial Reconstruction Could Now Look to Your DNANews
Researchers have identified fifteen genes that determine our facial features. The potential applications are numerous. Doctors could use DNA for skull and facial reconstructive surgery, forensic examiners could sketch a perpetrator’s face on the basis of DNA retrieved from a crime scene, and historians would be able to reconstruct facial features using DNA from days long gone.READ MORE
Comments | 0 ADD COMMENT
4th International Conference on Crystallography & Novel Materials
Nov 19 - Nov 20, 2018