From Getty Images

One hundred and twenty three years ago today, Jack the Ripper was to claim the first of his five victims, each one brutally murdered in London's East End during in the autumn of 1888.

Over the years, the hope of discovering an identity for the murderer has proved to be quite an industry. The latest suspect is a German merchant by the name of Carl Feigenbaum who was executed in New York's Sing Sing prison in 1894, convicted of the murder of his landlady in Manhattan. And now, a Ripper expert, the former murder squad detective, Trevor Marriott, is convinced that Feigenbaum is 'his man'.

Feigenbaum's lawyer in New York was quite convinced that his client had been Jack the Ripper - presumably because Feigenbaum told him. Marriott has now discovered that a German ship called the Reiher was docked at the time of the murders, and one of the seamen on that ship was Feigenbaum, who therefore was in the vicinity and had the predisposition to carry out such crimes.

The link is somewhat tentative. There is no definitive answer. It seems that the Ripper's identity may well remain a mystery for another hundred years.

For related Jack the Ripper Posts -






Feeling very Undancy by Arthur Rackham

There was a point in her youth when, much to her mother's dismay, the VV felt very 'undancy', preferring to stay in her bedroom and dream, and that bedroom painted a very dark green, with oriental shawls and fans, and peacock feathers and pampas grasses and, in pride of place, above her bed, not the usual posters of pop stars, but some poignantly beautiful printed cards with softly rounded corners depicting the seductively inky illustrations of the Victorian artist, Arthur Rackham.

Arthur Rackham 1867 - 1939 - a self portrait

How serious and respectable Arthur looks in this self portrait, more like an accountant from the 1950's than a man who created such magical scenes of fairytales and myths. But then, he did indeed work as a clerk at the Westminster Fire Office before going on to study part time at the Lambeth School of Art.

Fairy on a Spider's Web

At the age of twenty five, Arthur left his 'serious' job and began a career in book illustration, devising a gritty, realistic technique which involved sketching an outline in pencil and then blocking in some colour, before adding detail in india ink. Sometimes this 'sepia' monotone look was enhanced with watercolours, building up layers of transparent tints. He also worked with silhouettes and was inspired by Japanese woodblocks.

A decidely Japanese influence in this illustration taken from Das Rhiengold

The director, Guillermo Del Toro says that Rackham inspired his work, notably the faun in Pan's Labyrinth - as well as the tree that grows out of a Scottish church altar in Hellboy which Del Toro called the 'Rackham Tree'.

The faun in Pan's Labryinth

Arthur Rackham is still inspiring the VV's imagination today while she writes a new novel based on a Victorian artist. His work was very prolific and though filled with romance, it is rarely 'twee'- perhaps due to the clarity and truth of  line, which is also something to be said of another favourite illustrator, the contempory artist, P J Lynch. 

The Rhienmaidens from The Ring

There is a wealth of Rackham's work to view online, as well as still being available in many children's classic books, from the stories of the Brother's Grimm, and Lewis Carol's Alice in Wonderland. to the Romance of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table, or English Fairy Tales, or Peter Pan, or The Ring - to touch on but a few.  

Here is just one of the tributes to his work found on Youtube - Enjoy!