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Murder & Jack the Ripper

Key Texts

Josephine McDonagh, Child Murder and British Culture, 1720-1900

Nicholas Rance, ‘Jonathan’s great knife: Dracula meets Jack the Ripper’, Victorian Literature and Culture, 2002

Martin Weiner, ‘Murder and the modern British historian’, Albion, 2004


See the National Archives website for primary sources on crime.

The Old Bailey Online: gives information on murder trials

Check the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for biographies of notable murderers:


Seminar Questions
  •  Does the ‘Jack the Ripper’ affair reveal growing social, racial and gender anxieties in Victorian London
  • Assess the myth of Jack the Ripper and its portrayal by the Victorian media.
  • How were murderers treated by the courts? Were women murderers or child murderers treated differently than men murdering other men?
Suggested Films

Jack the Ripper (BBC drama); From Hell (2001)


Further Reading

V Bailey (ed.), Policing and punishment in 19th century Britain

Jan Bonderson, ‘Monsters and moral panic in London’, History Today, 2001

K Chesney, The Victorian Underworld

Carolyn A Conley, ‘Wars among savages: homicide and ethnicity in the Victorian United Kingdom’, Journal of British Studies, 2005

Mary Beth Emmerichs, ‘Getting away with murder? Homicide and the coroners in 19th century London’, Social Science History, 2001

C Emsley, Crime and Society in England, 1750-1900

P Fisher, Illustrated Guide to Jack the Ripper

Mary S Hartman, ‘Murder for respectability: the case of Madeline Smith’, Victorian Studies, 1973

Judith Knelman, ‘Women murderers in Victorian Britain’, History Today, 1998

P Priestley, Victorian prison lives: English prison biography

W D Rubinstein, ‘The hunt for Jack the Ripper’, History Today, 2000

G Rudé, Crime and victim: crime and society in early 19th century England

David Taylor, Crime, Policing and Punishment in England, 1750-1914

J J Tobias, Crime and police in England, 1700-1900

Judy Walkowitz, ‘Jack the Ripper and the myth of male violence’, Feminist Studies, 1982

Martin Wiener, Deconstructing the criminal

Martin Weiner, ‘Judges v jurors: courtroom tensions in murder trials and the law of criminal responsibility in 19th century England’, Law and History Review, 1999

Martin Weiner, ‘The sad story of George Hall: adultery, murder and the politics of mercy in mid-Victorian England’, Social History, 1999

Lucia Zedner, Women, Crime and Custody