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The Hidden Lives of Jack the Ripper's Victims (Hardback)

British History True Crime London P&S History 19th Century

By Dr Robert Hume
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 156
ISBN: 9781526738608
Published: 18th September 2019


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Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly are inextricably linked in history. Their names might not be instantly recognisable, and the identity of their murderer may have eluded detectives and historians throughout the years, but there is no mistaking the infamy of Jack the Ripper.

For nine weeks during the autumn of 1888, the Whitechapel Murderer brought terror to London’s East End, slashing women’s throats and disembowelling them. London’s most famous serial killer has been pored over time and again, yet his victims have been sorely neglected, reduced to the simple label: prostitute.

The lives of these five women are rags-to-riches-to-rags stories of the most tragic kind. There was a time in each of their lives when these poor women had a job, money, a home and a family. Hardworking, determined and fiercely independent individuals, it was bad luck, or a wrong turn here or there, that left them wretched and destitute. Ignored by the press and overlooked by historians, it is time their stories were told.

I love true crime and this book really did it in for me. My skin was crawling.
Jack the Ripper is one of my favourite serial killers so this book captivated me from the get go.

NetGalley, Randi Maguire

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

The five victims were women living in London with the hope of finding a better life. They were looking for jobs during a time that women were given the worse jobs and very little money. Four of the five women were English while one woman came from Sweden. These women had written ballads, lived on country estates, ran coffee houses, and work with printers. Women were living in a time where women had lived during a time of growing poverty and homelessness. These women died as a result of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The author gives a detailed explanation of the women’s lives starting from childhood and going forward in their lives to death. He also details what life was like in the White Chapel area and similar areas. I got the impression that it was a very bad time to be a woman. Women were not treated very well to say the least. It’s a humbling experience to read what these five women went through to live their lives. It is a book that I will not forget.

NetGalley, Susan Mahaffey

It's fantastic that this book focuses on the victims, their lives and who they are instead of the mystery and savage nature of their murderer.

A mind opening look into the lives of the women who were brutally murdered by a sadistic killer. It is well researched, well thought out and executed perfectly.

NetGalley, Kimmy S

A book that looks at the victims rather than at Jack the Ripper.
It shares information about them which makes them real people.
I found this book incredibly interesting.

NetGalley, Tracey Shults

The Hidden Lives of Jack the Ripper's Victims by Robert Hume is a piece of nonfiction that decided to focus on the victims instead of being just another run of the mill Ripper book. That was what intrigued me about the book. I was fascinated to learn more about each of these women and their lives in lower working class late Victorian London. I found this book to be quite successful. The book was easily accessible for any level history fan. I found all the little bits of information about larger Victorian society to be very interesting. A great way to set the women in the world they lived in. I also enjoyed all the pictures scattered throughout the book. Hume provides plenty of evidence history for that he writes. I did feel that at times he speculated too much about people's motivations, but it doesn’t hinder the reading experiences. Overall, I found the book to be very interesting. I learned a lot about these women. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the Ripper murders, true crime fans, social history fans or dark history fans.

NetGalley, Rachelle Robison

An interesting walkthrough of the background of Jack the Ripper' s victims. This book gives a well-researched biography of each of the women. It includes where they were born, their early lives and their individual paths to becoming women of the night and ending with their tragic deaths. No attempt is made to identify Jack, which is appropriate because this book is about his victims and how they met their horrible ends.

NetGalley, Pam Chantrell

More than just simple sacrifices - here the myth of the simple is cleared up and the lives of the rib victims are illuminated in more detail, which casts a completely different view of what is happening. The book depicts an accurate picture of the women of the time.

Conclusion: History can be so exciting!

NetGalley, Nureeni Lem

[b]Rating[b]: 5 out of 5 stars

An accurate account of the Whitechapel Murders of 1888, focusing on their victims rather than on the character of Jack the Ripper; by placing the spotlight on their personal lives.

A great book that should be read together with “Who was Jack the Ripper? All suspects revealed”, written by the H Division Crime Club and published by Pen & Sword.

NetGalley, Carmen L

There is quite a bit of information I had not read about before in this book and the usual main concept, that of identifying Jack, didn't seem to be needed at all. There is no doubt the inability of the police to identify a viable suspect in such a high profile case has kept it in the literary limelight for over 130 years and I am sure many more books will follow this one. In reality it is quite possible the perpetrator and his reasons for killing could be both ordinary and mundane in nature and not worthy of our attention. I have a feeling we may never find out if that is the case or not but there will always be those who investigate and those who read about it afterwards.

NetGalley, Tracy Wood

Interesting research on the victims of Jack the Ripper. The focus I've read in the past has always had the focus and speculation on who Jack the Ripper could be. This book comes at it from a different perspective, and gives insight into the lives and problems of poverty and abuse the victims suffered. It gives them a face and a voice, and less dismissive as "just a prostitute" as many have done then and now... could see this as a great tool to have in a research library, and would be useful for anyone wanting to know more about what happen and to who. Also, a lot of photos from the area really help bring the issue to life as well. Highly recommend this book.

NetGalley, Kaye Temanson

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Everyone knows Jack the Ripper, but what do we know about his victims?
I thought I knew a lot about the London of this period. I guess I was wrong. Or better, I recognized many things that were written about in this book, but I never made the link to the five women that were killed by Jack! I learned much from this book, and it has changed my view of this part of history. It has become no less grim or dark, even the opposite. It has also made the victims more human.

NetGalley, Jantine Kampes-Schimmel

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I was so glad to see this book, as it focuses on the victims of the crimes as opposed to the perpetrator. It was a well-written reporting of facts told as a story for each victim in the order of her death.

Even without dramatic flair, the abject poverty in which these, and other East Londoners lived is made tragically clear. The trajectory of these women's lives could have been so different if not for, as the author states, "the fickleness of fate - unemployment, abandonment, homelessness, or the death of a parent, husband or child".

The book is meticulously researched and there are pictures and documentation of the places referenced. Pictures of the victims post-mortem are also included. The historical backdrop of the political and social climate of London at the time is really brought to life.

I highly recommend this book as a commemoration to those poor women who had the misfortune to cross paths with a killer. Their lives were important, and these are their stories.

NetGalley, Jamie Wickam

This was a fantastic and thoroughly well researched book about the victims of Jack the Ripper. I liked the fact that it focused more on the women and their life stories, as opposed to the usual angle of working out who Jack might have been, and thought the overall tone of the book made it a very accessible read.

NetGalley, Amelia Louise

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a very well researched and written book. It was nice to finally read a book that focused on the victims as opposed to Jack The Ripper.

NetGalley, Karen Kenyon

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I absolutely loved the fact this book focuses on the lives of his victims, rather than the infamy and notoriety he gained, to remember the women as the important ones, women with lives who were murdered and tortured completely undeserving of their fate. Well researched and put together, great phots, illustrations and news clippings to illustrate their stories even better. This book is a great new fresh perspective and puts the main focus where it should always have been, innocent women who were murdered.

NetGalley, Tara Keating

A fascinating insight into the intricate inner lives of Jack the Ripper's victims, this novel asks you to look beyond the historical hype and regard these women as what they truly were - human beings undeserving of their fate. Filled with historical details about the time and Victorian culture, plus never be seen photographs, this book is an excellent primer of the infamous crimes.

NetGalley, Kinsey Fiene

Everyone knows the case of Jack the Ripper and how he terrorized London, but many might not know his victims. This book details the background and lives of all 5 of the Ripper's victims. Dr. Hume brings their histories into the forefront and tells you each of their stories, from as early as is recorded up until their brutal murders. Scattered throughout are also pictures and drawings from that time period, which really helps bring the facts to life. It's so interesting to read about these women and see what struggles they all had, from hard marriages to alcoholism. If you're a fan of true crime, or even just history itself, this is definitely something to check out.

NetGalley, Heather Harrington

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I’ve read several books about the Jack the Ripper cases and was thrilled for the opportunity to review this book. It lived up to my expectations in a way that none other have. The books primary focus being the victims of the Ripper, it is unique in itself. The book is so well researched, and each victim comprehensively given a history and a story of their own. These woman’s unfortunate demises intertwining them, but also the commonality of their misfortune in life, addiction, family demise and marital failure. I learned a lot about London’s conditions for Victorian women. I would recommend this book to fans of history, crime, and society.

NetGalley, Tanya Riley

Finally, a book that looks more into the lives of the Ripper’s victims rather than giving all of the attention to the killer himself. From what it shows, the victims have often been misrepresented up to this point. It discusses the false belief at the time that the women chose to be prostitutes rather than be respectable housewives, like they had a choice. Also, how they were often portrayed as dirty, drunken women, stumbling around looking for their next hookup. I found this honest look into the victim’s lives much more interesting than yet another ho-hum attempt at guessing who the Ripper is again. A fresh look at the story with a bit more realistic look at how things really were for poor women back then in many cases, instead of the hogwash that’s been carried down through the years.

It shares information on each of the victims, making them more real people rather than characters in a story.

NetGalley, Valerie Shampine

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was a fantastic book, retelling the lives of the victims of Jack The Ripper. It was such an interesting read, it had me gripped from page one, I was transported to the 1800s and felt I was a bystander witnessing this ladies' lives. Absolutely loved this book, couldn't recommend it highly enough!

NetGalley, Siobhan Sheeran

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I am a massive fan of anything to do with Jack the Ripper and I have read a lot of books that cover the subject and I have to say that this one was superb and one of the best I have read!

The book was concise and I thought the content was excellent. The author has taken the time to put the spotlight on the victims and their lives, not on the infamous killer and who they may have been.

I think the book portrayed the victims in a good light, it showed just how hard it was for these women in the East End of Victorian London. It must have been a horrific thing to live through, you have the lack of housing, possibility that you won’t have money to eat and the only way you think you earn money is to sell your body and ultimately put your life at risk, it must have been an awful choice to make when you know that there is a killer prowling the streets and you could potentially be next...

It is 5 stars from me for this one, it is a well written book, I loved the content and thought it was superb overall. Very highly recommend, a must for fans of the Jack the Ripper mystery and true crime!

NetGalley, Donna Maguire

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

History often likes to plat righteous and forget that the women destroyed by "Jack the Ripper" were real individuals, not just stereotypes or sensationalist corpses. This highly-detailed account uncovers the biographies of these victims, illustrating that economics drove them to act as they did. Reiterating that these women were not low in intellect nor deficient in moral value, but constrained by economic reality to struggle to survive, they are seen as doubly victimized: mirdered brutally, then blamed for their lifestyle choices. This narrative offers a fresh new perspective.

NetGalley, Mallory Haws

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I have been waiting for this wonderfully compassionate book for years and didn't even realize it.

So much obsession over Ripper mythology and so many people treat Mary Ann, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary Jane like they were somehow deserving of their tragic fates.

I feel this book is a very important read.

NetGalley, Sarah Betts

An interesting look on the five murders of these unfortunate women, like Hume says, are only refereed to as "fallen" or "loose" women. I, for one, had never read much about these women's lives before, and by reading about them I feel as the murders of them are to be looked upon as even more horrifying than they usually are. These five individuals all lived rough with very little, they had to survive somehow, and it seems like they just happen to have picked up the wrong client at the wrong time which led to their deaths.

Hume presents each victim's backstory, their family background and how they ended up in London's East End and ultimately how they met their end and how their bodies were discovered. The text is easy to follow and he also presents several photographs and drawings of places, official records, morgue photographs and the like to portray the text which is a good way of opening up the cases to the reader. It was a nice angle to not mention the killer as much and put the focus on the victims and their story, which all have been demoted to nothingness in the hunt for the identity of the killer.

NetGalley, Sarah Matsson-Klingzell

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Wow, what an amazing read. I couldn’t put it down and read it in a matter of hours. I’ve read many Jack the Ripper books where authors promise to provide you with the true identity of the killer, so it was refreshing to find a book that went the opposite way and spoke about the victims and their lives. They have forever just been names and photos of their mutilated bodies, but this book makes them human and you can’t help but feel sorry for them during their entire life. Very well written and researched.

NetGalley, Charlene Kearnes

About Dr Robert Hume

Now an author and freelance feature writer, Dr Robert Hume was former head of history at Hillview School, Tonbridge, and Clarendon House Grammar School, Ramsgate, Kent. He writes regularly for magazines such as BBC History, History Today and the Irish Examiner. This is his first book for Pen and Sword.

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