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Facing the Yorkshire Ripper (Kindle)

The Art of Survival

True Crime Yorkshire and Humberside P&S History 20th Century

By Mo Lea
Imprint: Pen & Sword True Crime
File Size: 64.2 MB (.mobi)
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526777591
eBook Released: 12th November 2020

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As a survivor of a brutal attack by the Yorkshire Ripper, this book gives fresh insight into the consequences of being labeled a victim of this notorious serial killer.

Mo Lea was followed home and attacked by Peter Sutcliffe, who hit her over the head repeatedly with a hammer. She was stabbed with a screwdriver leaving her with life threatening injuries. The book reveals how Mo has wrestled with the past, struggling to come to terms with the well-trodden, morbid narrative. She has written a new, fresh perspective for the present day.

Her writing offers an alternative account, one which repositions her as a survivor with a success story. While sympathy has its place for the victims, this book gives insight into processes of recovery and success. Mo had no control over unwanted media interventions. Sometimes the Ripper story would appear on the morning news while she was getting ready to go to work. She learnt to contain her anxiety but she could neither predict or escape these uncomfortable moments that reminded her of her past trauma.

Mo Lea’s art practice has been an important factor in her life. She has been fortunate to use this as an outlet to explore her pain, anger, suffering and recovery.

After years of personal growth and recovery, a short film was made of Mo Lea creating a drawing from the iconic photograph of the man who had tried to take her life. She is filmed ripping up the Ripper. She is filmed tearing up the portrait that she had so carefully drawn, rendering him as disposable as a piece of litter. The film shows how Mo turned her story around, making Sutcliffe the victim and herself, the triumphant survivor.

Mo had finally found a way of stepping out of the frame. She no longer felt Iike running away. The illustrations contained within describe better than any words, her journey from tragic despair to calmness and acceptance. By writing this book Mo Lea has found a way to reclaim her story.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

To survive an attack by the Yorkshire Ripper yet not have it acknowledged blighted this ladie's life. This is the story of her struggle.
An interesting read.

NetGalley, Sadie Powell

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was a very interesting read which had me gripped. The lady was so brave and this is so well written and a credit to her.

NetGalley, Tracey Ford

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is about someone who was attacked by the Yorkshire ripper and how she turns her life around using her artistic skills and she turns it around to him being the victim. Truly inspirational..

NetGalley, Jo Guest

On the 20th of October 1980 (few days before her 21st Birthday) art student Mo Lea spends a night out with friends in Leed’s student area. The air of a city under siege is clear to the local student population. Even in this insidious atmosphere, Mo Lea takes the risk of taking a short dimly lit walk home. In his fifth (and final) year, the Yorkshire Ripper's modus operandi shifts in victimology from prostitutes to random young women and students in and around the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire, in the heart of urban England.

The artist and art itself is the leitmotif that runs throughout this true-crime biography and its a technique that tells the story well. Shortly after the attack itself, Mo’s creative process is dark imagery, exhibitions, and portfolios full of macabre drawings and paintings, the artistic emotional torture is conveyed in excruciating detail.

As the year’s progress, Mo Lea takes us on a journey through the United States, Leeds, Bedfordshire, and even a life-affirming meeting with a woman that changes the artist’s life, and sexuality, in one swift move. Like brush strokes on a blank canvas, Mo’s paints her prose well and delivers a harrowing yet engaging account. Although the book is a bit dry on the more titillating details of Sutcliffe’s crimes (maybe not one for all true crime fans) it is, however, an inspiring story of recovery, reinvention, and the ability to overcome.

Mo also delves deep into her emotionally fraught and tiresome dealings with the gross incompetence of West Yorkshire Police and their notorious mismanagement of the Yorkshire Ripper case. Although Mo does seem to recover, that part of the story is a wound that seems to remain open.

NetGalley, VivaLa Books

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Facing the Yorkshire Ripper: The Art of Survival is exactly that. Do not pick up this book if all you want is to hear the gory details and get your true crime fix. This heart wrenching book is about how Mo Lea learned to survive after being attacked by one of the most notorious serial killers Britain has ever seen, and it had me absolutely gripped.

Mo Lea is a fascinating person, and a captivating writer. Her words make you feel like you are with her through every moment. You feel the things that she feels; the whirlwind of confusion after the attack, the frustration at not being heard, the piecing back together bit by bit of life, and overcoming the physical and emotional scarring caused by the ordeal she has been through.

Surviving an attack is not just about physical survival in the days following, but it is also about making it through every day afterwards, not knowing whether you’ll see a newspaper headline, or overhear someone talking about your attacker on the bus. Sutcliffe was very high profile, and talk of him around the time, and in the many years following has never lulled. There was absolutely no escape from the past and what had happened to her, constantly being branded as a victim, and no longer an actual person. Not only that, but also the constant worry that Sutcliffe still hadn’t confessed to the attack- if not him, was the perpetrator still out there?

You are taken on a journey through Mo’s survival, her struggles over blaming being cruelly selected simply because she is female, and her worries of how she will be perceived with Sutcliffe’s reputation of the type of women he targeted.

I love how the book focuses on art giving Mo an outlet to explore how she was feeling, and you can clearly see throughout the book, and by her work featured at the end, that it enabled her to express her anger, and her pain, and in turn help her to be successful at moving on with her life.

I am so glad that Mo decided to share her story of survival with us, and that I was lucky enough to be selected to read it. I would highly recommend this book.

NetGalley, Sal Fields

This is not your normal run of the mill crime story. Knowing the story of the Yorkshire Ripper, Mo Lea fell victim to the killer herself, managing to survive the brutal attack that followed.

I really enjoyed reading this one. It was a different accounting than what you are used to reading, but it was gripping, and you could not turn the pages fast enough to see what happened next!

Great for weekend reads.

NetGalley, Rebecca Hill

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This book is a story about growth and how to survive after a horrific ordeal. I as a true crime buff absolutely lived this story. Many stories like this focused on the killer so was a nice change of pace to have focus on a brave person.

NetGalley, Michelle Griffiths

The bravery of the survivor to share their story resonates throughout this book. As a true crime fan, I had heard of the Yorkshire Ripper before but never this in-depth. It was told in a way that was easy to follow and I never felt bored which can happen a lot in true crime with too many facts at once.

NetGalley, Caroline Craig David

Yorkshire Ripper victim vows 'he won't destroy me' 40 years after he tried to kill her.

The Express 25/10/20

About Mo Lea

Mo Lea is from a working class background in Liverpool. Despite having been attacked by the Yorkshire Ripper she has had a successful career teaching in a range of institutions over the years ranging from Probation services, Junior, Secondary and Further and Higher Education at Masters level in the UK, USA, Malaysia, and in the South Pacific.


Mo is a practicing artist and throughout her teaching, she has exhibited new bodies of work every few years in the cities where she's lived including London, Los Angeles and New York.


In her younger years she used drawing to express conditions of memory and trauma, finding the creative process both healing and calming.

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