Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Monday, 8 September 2014
Jack the Ripper - RIP?
Patricia Cornwell may have to give an apology to the descendants of Walter Sickert, now that the true identity of Jack the Ripper seems to have been uncovered using DNA technology on samples taken from a cloth shawl found at the scene of one of the crimes.
Jack was Aaron Kosminski apparently, a Polish immigrant who moved to Whitechapel, London, committed the murders and was eventually locked up as insane.
I have to say that I wanted to be convinced that Sickert was the culprit, mainly because he spent the last years of his life here in Bath, but I did find the sub-title title of P.C.'s book - 'Case Closed' - somewhat arrogant and irritating, especially since it was all based on conjecture. I suppose she was primarily intent on selling a lot of them though, so it did the trick.
I wonder why this series of horrific murders of women caught the public's attention so much, especially since plenty more were committed before and after. It was the classic Victorian melodrama, and was a problem that even Sherlock could not solve. Another suspect at the time was also called 'Holmes'.
P.C. also blames the ritual murder of a young boy on Sickert in the book, as his neatly laid-out, dismembered body was found in the same locality in Northern France where Sickert was known to be at the time, and drawings in a Cornish hotel guest book by Sickert almost exactly match ones sent to the police by Jack. Could it be that Sickert just played with the police?
There were a few words and phrases used by both Sickert and the man calling himself 'Jack' too, the most haunting one being 'Saucy!', when describing women, clothing, or women's clothing.
All the women that Jack killed were low-life prostitutes. I wonder if the police would have tried a little harder if they had come from the Royal Family who were suspected (by certain newspapers) of harbouring the true murderer. That little theory sold a lot of newspapers too, simply by using safely oblique suggestion.
P.C. says in her book that she was jogging in Central Park when she was overcome with the conviction that it was her duty to uncover the identity of Jack the Ripper, and she was fortunate enough to be able to afford to buy a large quantity of Jack memorabilia, including letters, drawings etc. to work with.
The hunch that Sickert was her man slowly turned into conviction, but it may just go to show that the investigations of an outraged writer may not be as thorough as a scientist's, even though it was a writer using a scientist to support his case - in this case. Aaron Kosminski was a prime suspect at the time of the murders, but the police could not amass enough evidence against him at the time, and before he was pronounced insane in any case.
The Art world has been steadfastly ignoring suggestions that Sickert could have been Jack, probably to protect their investments.
There is one painting by Sickert, however, which almost perfectly matches a police photograph of a Ripper crime scene at Whitechapel, where Sickert had a secret and sordid little studio.
The subject matter is very strange. It is of a woman lying awkwardly on a couch with blood-red colour which does not seem to be clothing, suggesting a gruesome and violent death. Saucy!