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December 28, 2021 38 mins

Families of Ripper victims often suppressed the memories of their murdered loved ones - fearing the stigma of being related to supposed "prostitutes". And descendants of men accused of being the infamous killer have also had to endure seeing their ancestors' reputations sullied.

We hear from a living relatives of Annie Chapman... and of Jacob Levy, a Whitechapel butcher whose appalling struggle with mental illness has caused unsympathetic observers to conclude that he was Jack the Ripper.

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:15):
Pushkin. This episode discusses death by suicide. If you're suffering
emotional distress or having suicidal thoughts. Support is available, for example,
from the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Following the barbaric murder

(00:36):
of Mary Jane Kelly, the Ripper seems to disappear. The
weeks stretch into months, then years. When the dead bodies
of women are discovered in the locality and they are
found with dismal regularity, Police surgeons search them for any
knife wounds akin to the Ripper's trademark savagery. Might this

(00:58):
cut signify the Ripper's return? Might that slash? The medical
experts bicker and no consensus is reached. So what lies
behind the wholt the Ripper killings? Has he fled even emigrated?
Has he been imprisoned on another charge? In a house
close to where Kate Edo's perished, a doctor is signing

(01:21):
a certificate. Henry James Sacara judges its high time local
butcher Jacob Leviy be returned to a lunatic asylum. Levy
has been confined in such an institution before only coming
home to the family butcher shop in eighteen eighty seven,
but his continued erratic behavior is causing alarm. The man

(01:43):
raves and restlessly wanders the streets at night. Secara notes
he also talks of committing violent acts with the stroke
of a pen. The doctor consigns Levy to an asylum.
Has Secara in fact caged the Ripper. Some will make
that very case. The crimes of Jack the Ripper cast

(02:07):
long and disturbing shadows, setting in motion events that will
cause great anguish to the families of the dead and Sully,
the reputations of many perfectly innocent bystanders. The hurt, shame,
and suspicion doesn't end in the eighteen eighties. Worryingly, it
endures to this very day. I'm Hallie rubin Holt. You're

(02:34):
listening to Bad Women. The Ripper retold, a series about
the real lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper,
and how we got their stories so wrong. One side,
money plenty, and friends too by the scar Then fortune

(03:00):
smiled upon me. I naw one, pass myde not convert.

(03:36):
The body of Annie Chapman, the coachman's wife cursed by
alcohol addiction, was discovered early on Saturday, the eighth of
September eighteen eighty eight. Perhaps a police constable was then
dispatched to inform her siblings. Perhaps he knocked at the
door as the Presbyterian teetotalers were preparing to leave for
Sunday services, or maybe the first the Smith familyhood of

(04:00):
Annie's fate came in the newspapers, which called their sister
a woman of low life. Early reports referred to her
as a poor creature. They spoke too of her drinking,
and while they admitted that dark Annie's primary occupation was
selling fabric chair coverings in the market, there is little

(04:20):
room for doubt that her earnings were eked out by
less creditable courses. The Daily News went on to say
that the corpse discovered in the grubby yard of Hanbury
Street had been mutilated in a manner too horrible for description,
but then went on to describe much of the horror anyway.
Annie's siblings couldn't bear to tell their elderly mother that

(04:43):
the daughter she had lost to alcoholism had now been killed,
or that her murder had been so gruesome. They also
smothered their shock and grief before the two children Annie
had left in their care. They would never know what
fate had befallen their mother a shroud of silence was
drawn over Annie Chapman's story. It would remain in place

(05:08):
for generations. I know that my dad didn't know about it.
I'm pretty sure my grandfather didn't know about it either.
This is Neil Smith, the great great grandson of Annie's
youngest brother, Fonton Smith. He only discovered his connection to
the White Chapel murders when he googled his family tree
and all sorts of Ripper links appeared. I'm fairly certain

(05:31):
that Fontin himself probably had not talked about it to
his direct family because of a probably the trauma and
the distress of having your sister murdered from one thing,
but also the stigma attached to the Ripper case. She
was an alcoholic, she had a broken marriage, and there
was the implication from the press and the police that
she was a sex worker, whether that was true or not.

(05:53):
And so all of these things would have been an
anathema to a Victorian, aspiring middle class man or I
thought so, I can understand completely. White would have been
hushed up. As the man of the family. The worst tasks,
those that required a public face, fell to Fonton, and
so it was he who identified the torn ragged body
of his elder sister, and stood before the coroner to

(06:15):
testify at her inquest. I last saw her alive about
a fortnight ago in Commercial Street, where I met her promiscuously.
I gave her two shillings. She did not say where
she was living nor what she was doing. She said
she wanted the money for a lodging. Fonton may well
have been the last of the siblings to see Annie alive,

(06:36):
and he may also have lent her money more often
than he cared to admit, either to the public or
to his own teetotaling family. When it came to helping
Annie out, he would likely have been a softer touch
than his siblings and goold for standing her a drink
or two. For like his sister, Fonton Smith was an alcoholic.

(06:58):
Fonton buckled under the horror of Annie's murder, and as
he fell, he grabbed for the one thing he knew
would provide him with immediate, though fleeting relief, the bottle.
Within a month of the harrowing ordeal of his sister's death,
he had suffered a breakdown after stealing money from his
employer to buy drinks. He lost his job as a

(07:21):
warehouse manager. Friends intervened and found him another position, but
Fonton's misery followed him there too. One day, unable to cope,
he filled himself with alcohol and his pockets with his
employer's funds. Then he abandoned his wife and two children
and disappeared. A week later, the family received a letter

(07:45):
from the city of Gloucester, where Funton had walked into
a police station and surrendered himself. At the foot of
his confession, he wrote, Oh, my darling wife, it's all
the cursed drink. For God's sake, don't let the children
touch it. He was taken back to London, found guilty,
and sentenced to three months hard labor at Millbank Prison,

(08:09):
with the chimes of nearby Big Ben marked out the
excruciating the slow passage of time for inmates. Upon his release,
Thornton resolved to start his life afresh, taking his wife
and children across the Atlantic to settle in the dust
and heat of Texas. Neil grew up learning the same

(08:33):
Ripper stories as the rest of us, the stories that
denigrate the women. He was amazed to uncover his links
to Annie and found the discovery caused a shift in
his thinking. Despite the fact that obviously I never met Annie,
She's still not a very distant relative. I definitely identified
with her and imagine that she might have felt to

(08:53):
some of the same things that I feel, which normally
you don't really think about that with somebody who lived
one hundred and fifty years ago. It certainly brought her
to life for me, and it did make me identify
with her and feel very sorry about what happened to her.
But Neil's empe heightened by his connection to Annie's story,
isn't shared by everyone. They'd fallen on hard times a

(09:16):
lot of time because of their own doing, not because
anybody had made them homeless, not because you know, anybody
had made them poor, not because anybody had made them
walk the streets at night. It was of their own doing.
I told Neil what former policeman Trevor Marriott had said
about Annie, that she was to blame for her own
poverty and homelessness, that she chosen the bottle over her family.

(09:39):
That's basically like the Victorian attitude if you like that
alcoholism and mental health problems were a weakness. Obviously she
didn't choose this way of life. Unfortunate, she had a
disease to have. The attitude is it's unsympathetic and it's
just wrong. Basically, I think Trevor's unsympathetic attitude has annoyed
many listeners. Some of you have even asked us not

(10:00):
to air any more of his views. But Trevor isn't
just a Victorian throwback or a modern outlier. There are
Trevors all around us, and we might all embody Trevor
at times too. We would like to assume that the
world is a just place, that you know, truly awful
bad things don't happen to good people, right. Laurie Santos

(10:21):
as a professor of psychology at Yale University, and she's
describing a common cognitive bias that explains why we often
find it so easy to feel detached from women like
Annie and also quick to shift the blame onto them.
We kind of want to believe that if we do
the right thing, good things will happen to us. But
it also leads to this insidious rationalization, which is like,

(10:42):
when you see a bad thing happen to a person,
your first instinct is to assume, well, maybe there was
some reason there, right, Maybe it just didn't happen by chance.
Laurie says a classic example of this is when someone
leaves their purse in their car and then that car
gets broken into. Your first instinct is would be like, well,

(11:02):
maybe it's kind of her fall that she left the
person the car to justify like why wasn't it your
a car that got broken into? Or a friend tells
you like, oh my gosh, my sister just found out
she has liver cancer. Your first instinct often isn't like empathy.
It's like, well, I wonder if she drank too much
or didn't take care of herself. According to Laurie, this
type of thinking emerges in children as young as four,

(11:24):
so it makes sense that it's still with us as adults.
It's a quick knee jerk response. If you tell little
kids kid versions of the stories we wouldn't talk about,
you know, Jack the Ripburn serial killer murders to little kids.
But simple things like Joe was walking to school and
he got pooped on by a bird, the kids will
start justifying, well, you know, maybe Joe did something wrong
or he's a bad person. Right, he can't just be unlucky.

(11:46):
There has to be some reason for this, right, Our
brains start unconsciously looking for evidence that there might be
some reason in there that it's a justice or perhaps
the Smith's siblings did just this in September eighteen eighty
eight and convinced themselves that Annie the drinker, Annie the
arrant mother, Annie the lowlife, had somehow invited her own murder.

(12:09):
Putting this cognitive bias under the microscope. Stopping to think
that victims might actually be blameless is uncomfortable. As a woman.
It's hard for me to believe that, you know, I
could just be the victim of violence. So I have
to say, well, there must be something that that other
woman who's a victim of violence did to deserve it.
You know, that protects me. That's a whole host of
mental gymnastics. That's me rationalizing, but it has this benefit,

(12:32):
which is it protects me from a really scary belief.
Maybe there's no reason that I'm not the victim of violence.
Maybe there's no reason that I happen to, you know,
not grow up as poor as some of the women
you're talking about, or poor as some of the people
in the modern day. Like it's just an accident. I
don't really deserve it. It's just kind of unfair. There
are many other figures caught up in the tangled web
of the Ripper myth who deserve our empathy. Yeah, I mean,

(12:55):
I'm so very compelled by the story, unfascinated, and it's
just it's a very sad and gut wrenching story. Really.
Hannah Jones is the great great granddaughter of Jacob Leave.
Some people have said Jacob was the Ripper. He worked
near Whitechapel as a butcher, and one expert witness thought
the Ripper displayed a butcher's skill with a knife. The

(13:15):
Ripper was also often described as a madman, and Jacob
had experienced mental health problems and spent time in asylums.
In the notes from his first admission in eighteen eighty six,
there is a brief mention of violent behavior. In the
notes from his second admission in eighteen ninety, it says
that he feels that if he is not restrained, he'll

(13:35):
do some violence to someone. Also that he feels compelled
to do act's contrary to the dictates of his conscience
by a power he cannot withstand. Basically, those are the
comments which excite ripparologists. The theory cobbled together from these
scant notes is that Jacob contracted syphilis as the consequence
of a moral transgression, that is, after sex with a

(13:58):
prostitute afflicted with grievous symptoms. When the disease began to
attack his brain, he wrotted bloody vengeance on any woman
he believed to be soliciting in his neighborhood. Syphilis retribution
theories like this are common because they're convenient. They satisfy
that cognitive buy as we have. They let us relax

(14:18):
into thinking that the women determine their own downfalls. They
also bring some order to what are otherwise senseless crimes.
Of course, it all relies on the women being prostitutes
and Jacob being a syphilis ravaged monster, and there's no
shortage of books, web pages, and even video games portraying Jacob.

(14:39):
Is just that Hannah has stumbled across several horrific depictions,
but has kept them from her relatives. I think if
my grandfather were to see that, he would be quite upset,
and he has every right to be upset. Once you
dig deeper into the Jewish Butcher's life and approach his
plight with empathy, the true and more tragic story of

(15:00):
Jacob Levee emerges more after this short break. Jacob Levy
was born in East London in eighteen fifty six. At fifteen,

(15:20):
he was recorded on the census as a butcher, a
family trade he likely began learning at around the age
of twelve or thirteen. Jews in London were a small
minority and subject to wider society's deep suspicion. As Jacob
grew into a young man, the influx of Eastern European
Jews fleeing murder and persecution and then settling around Whitechapel

(15:45):
became something of a national panic. The foreign Jews of
no nationality whatever are becoming a pest and a menace
to the poor, native borne Eastender. One visitor to the
streets around Jacob's home declared there was nothing English about
the place, only foreign faces, foreign shops, foreign talk, against

(16:07):
a backdrop of vast continental upheaval domestic calamity struck. The
Levy family deceased had bet heavily on the races, and
on the arrival of the news of the result, he
appeared very desponding. A doctor was called, but life had
been extinct some time. Jacob's older brother, Abraham, took his

(16:28):
own life, possibly because of a debt incurred on Derby Day,
a highlight of the racing calendar and attempting focus for
expert and novice gamblers alike. It was young Jacob who
forced open his brother's locked door and discovered the body.

(16:49):
Jacob soon married his close neighbor Sarah, and by eighteen
eighty one they had moved into rooms in a house nearby,
with their two children and a servant girl who likely
lived in to cater to their family on the Sabbath
when their Jewish faith forbade them from working. Jacob eventually
took the helm of his aunt's butchering business, and he

(17:10):
and Sarah had two more children, but misfortune loomed for
the growing young family. In March eighteen eighty six, Jacob
was arrested for the theft of a side of beef
from a neighboring butcher and tried at the Old Bailey,
a famous court was some of England's most serious and
notorious cases are heard. Jacob seems to have entered into

(17:33):
odd early morning negotiations with his neighbor's employees, encouraging them
to pass him a fourteen pound piece of meat. As
a policeman watched from across the road. A young shopboy
handed over the contraband I ran into leave his shop,
caught hold of him with the meat in his hand,
and asked what he was going to do with it.

(17:54):
He said, we are only having a lark. I am
going to weigh it. I said, I did not believe it,
and then took him to the station, where he repeated
that it was only a lark. In court, the neighbor
seemed puzzled by the theft. It was clearly no practical joke.
He wasn't on joking terms with Jacob, but nor were
they rivals. The value of the meat was paltry, and

(18:17):
Jacob was by no means poor, Nor could he quite
believe a fellow butcher would stoop to common theft, saying
that the Jewish authorities would not give a man a
license unless he had an excellent character. The judge did
indeed direct the jury that Jacob Leavy was of good character,
but the butcher was found guilty and the jurors did

(18:39):
not recommend he be shown mercy. He was sentenced to
twelve months hard labor, but just weeks after his arrival,
in prison, the authorities began to suspect a root cause
for his peculiar foray into petty crime. He is in
a state of melancholia cries without adequate cause. Jacob was

(19:01):
transferred to a lunatic asylum. His admissions file details his
mental decline. He is very despondent from the fact that
he attempted suicide at jail and that a brother committed suicide,
and insanity is hereditary in his family. I consider him
suicidal and insane, and yet his health appears to have

(19:24):
quickly improved. In eighteen eighty seven, he was deemed to
be of sound mind and fit for discharge. He returned
to his wife an expanding family. Sarah and Jacob would
have eight children in total, but Jacob's mental health continued
to decline, with devastating consequences. Sarah struggled to keep the

(19:44):
butchers shop afloat, lamenting that Jacob was ruining the business.
He couldn't be trusted with money, ordered goods indiscriminately, and
continued to steal other people's wares too. More worryingly, he
often had difficulties sleeping and mysteriously wandered off for hours
at a time. He raved and feared that someone was

(20:07):
trying to do him harm. Such symptoms weren't uncommon among
men of Jacob's age and social class, says Jennifer Wallace,
an expert on the history of psychiatry at Imperial College London.
There was a sense that insanity, as they termed it,
was increasing at the time, and there were various suggestions

(20:28):
put forward for that, from people having to adjust to
the new type of life of the late nineteenth century,
where you've got lots of developments, you've got new technologies,
lots of exciting things that could also be very disruptive
and new and anxiety making to people. The Victorians had
massively expanded the provision of care for those they termed lunatics,

(20:51):
but families were reluctant to see the head of a
household entered these new asylums if it could at all
be delayed. There was the stigma of mental illness, but
also the practicalities of losing a male breadwinner. Sarah Levy
was no exception. She seems to have kept Jacob at
home during his erratic behavior with little or no medical support.

(21:13):
Perhaps she hoped that the husband and provider of old
would be surface. I think it would be very difficult.
And you get a real sense of this sometimes when
you read the statements of families and friends where they
talk about things like the family business being very badly
affected because a man who runs the business, for instance,
he's buying hundreds and hundreds of creates of something way

(21:38):
more than they need, and he's overspent. He's put the
family into financial trouble. They also might be quite unpredictable,
so they might wander, they might do unusual things like
go into the street and start to get undressed. So
there is an element of public disorder there as well,
and a concern about what other people are seeing. In

(22:01):
the summer of eighteen ninety, Sarah Levy perhaps bowed to
the inevitable. Jacob's behavior was apparently too much to bear,
and a doctor was called, I the undersigned Henry James
Sequira to hear my certify. I personally examined Jacob Leavy
and came to the conclusion that he is a person
of unsound mind and a proper person to be taken

(22:23):
charge of and attained under care and treatment. Jacob was
returned to an asylum. Facts indicating insanity observed by myself
at the time of examination. Known patient several years formally
shrewd businessman, now quite incapable of carrying on same, giving
wrong change and money back for things bought. Says he

(22:44):
feels as something within him impelling him to take everything
he sees, feels that if he is not restrained, he
will do some violence to someone complains of hearing strange noises.
The doctors treating Jacob eventually concluded that he was suffering
from a condition they called general paralysis of the insane.

(23:06):
The classic general paralytic patient and tended to be somebody
of about Jacob's age, in their mid thirties, who had
been perhaps declining for a little while, and then seemed
to have had a crisis, often unable to keep working,
and that tended to be the event that made men
end up in the asylum when they could no longer

(23:27):
provide for their families. At the time, general paralysis was
for the most part believed to be linked to advanced
vinereal disease, so the final stage of untreated syphilis, when
it has lain dormant for many years and then spread
to the brain. Patients experienced a range of symptoms as
the infection attacked the nervous system. Elizabeth Stride, for example,

(23:52):
may have begun to suffer from seizures towards the end
of her life, but sufferers might see any number of
upsetting and debilitating effects. So it would have things like
an unusual walk, people would stagger, they would look as
though they were drunk. Perhaps they would be unable to
do things like button their shirt, so those finer movements

(24:13):
of the fingers would often start to disappear. They would
also have facial issues that would make the diagnosis perhaps
quite obvious to some doctors, where they was said to
be an unusual mask like appearance to the face and
perhaps a droopiness. Perhaps also unequal sized pupils as well,
But the mental symptoms were equally varied but also said

(24:37):
to be quite specific. So one of the classic signs
of general paralysis was the so called delusions of grandeur,
where patients thought that they had a lot of money,
are they knew somebody very famous, and this would often
get them into trouble, and this might be the thing
that caused them to be, for instance, picked up by
the police and sent to the asylum in the first place.

(24:59):
Many of Jacob's symptoms correspond to the disorder, but Jennifer
is wary of this diagnosis. The fact that alo symptoms
exist and tally with general paralysis isn't enough to say
that this actually was general paralysis. Doctors at the time
were really debating whether general paralysis was being conflated with

(25:23):
other conditions, particularly with things like brain tumors and with alcoholism,
and even some more unusual things like lead poisoning. So
it was something that because of its wide range of symptoms,
it looked like a lot of things, and a lot
of other things looked like it as well. Jacob had
been treated and discharged from an asylum once before. Sarah

(25:45):
must have hoped that he might return to the butcher
shop cured of his ranting, erratic ways and worrying nocturnal wanderings.
She was to be cruelly disappointed. The ripper be told
will return shortly. When Jacob arrived at Stone House, an

(26:10):
asylum recently built in the style of a Tudor palace
on the outskirts of London, he was at first well behaved.
He is loquacious and apparently does not feel his position
at all. There is a nonchalance in his manner which
is most unfitted today's condition. He suffered some initial bouts

(26:31):
of insomnia, but these subsided, and he also demonstrated an appetite.
In fact, he was said to eat with keen relish.
The daily life of a patients if they were well
enough to get out of bed, and they were not
in a state where they had been secluded for any reason,

(26:52):
they would probably find themselves sitting in a day room,
which might be quite sparse in terms of its entertainments,
or they might have access to things like a library,
so they would have games, books, the chance to walk
in the grounds outside. Perhaps many asylums also put on
entertainments like plays. There were also a few football teams

(27:14):
and sports teams in asylums. Jacob himself seemed to have
been active. The hospital had its own farm and he
worked here daily. At one point Sarah made the journey
out along the Thames to visit him. By this point,
we certainly shouldn't necessarily think of the asylum in terms
of this very gothic, dark, dirty institution where the flaws

(27:38):
are covered in straw. These are quite clinical environments, and
many of the asylums are very self consciously scientific, where
they are aware of things like the need to keep
places disinfected. But of course you would have patients who
might have problems like incontinents or self harm that would
lead to hygiene issues, to infection issues that would need

(28:02):
to be taken into account as well. So for all
their scientific ambition, asylums like the one would Jacob was confined,
could still be grim. The wards might be raucous and disorderly,
and patients weren't necessarily separated by illness type. There were
opportunities to mix and form friendships, but there would also

(28:22):
be some patients who were very ill, very alone in
those places. Life for those with general paralysis could be
particularly bleak. If you were somebody who was in a
rather reduced and bad state, you would probably be confined
to bed, you would be too frail, You would probably
be largely left alone for most of the day on

(28:45):
award with other people who were in a similar very
sick condition. Although Jacob was said to be well behaved,
his delusions as to his own importance still continued, such
as it being in his power to give great grants
of land and money. Jacob started suffering attacks of giddiness

(29:07):
and faintness, and would dissolve in tears, though he could
give no reason for his crying. He then suffered seizures.
Eventually he could no longer dress or undress himself, and
he had to be spoon fed. He also fell and
suffered bruising, though he fiercely resisted the doctors when they
tried to examine him further. And then on July twenty ninth,

(29:30):
eighteen ninety one, his pulse cannot be counted at wrist.
He gradually sank and died at seven fifty two pm.
Sarah was now left alone in the struggle to support
their eight children. Hannah Jones marvels at her great great

(29:51):
grandmother's fortitude. She would go to some department stores in
central London and she would pick up offcuts of dress
materials and then she would go and sell them in
the local market. I believe actually she actually tried to
keep the butchery business going for some time while Jacob
was ill, because on one of the sense says she's
listed as a butcher. So it was very hard. I mean,

(30:12):
her son, my great grandfather, I know, he was in
a children's time for a little while during his childhood,
so yeah, and there were times so I guess she
couldn't plug the gaps, but she did in the end,
and most of them grew up and had big families
at their own. The timeline for Jacob's confinement and death

(30:33):
very roughly coincide with the end of the Whitechapel murders,
and his mental state in eighteen eighty eight prior to
being institutionalized is one of the central planks of the
accusation that he was Jack the River, driven to violent
madness by syphilis. Jennifer Wallace thinks there is no certainty
Jacob even had this venereal disease. More interestingly, she also

(30:56):
argues his mental illness likely rules him out as the killer.
A lot of the doctors at the time who work
on this they talk about these patients being childish, about
them being clumsy, and also about them being somewhat automatic
in their movements, where they are really just going through

(31:17):
the motions of life and have often regressed in some way,
rather than being somebody who is very calculating and planning things.
They don't attempt to hide what they are doing, and
that seems to be a very common feature of that condition,
and in fact, one of the key writers on general
paralysis in this period. William Julius Mickel he thinks it's

(31:39):
incredibly rare for general paralytics to become involved in something
like murder, and he actually emphasizes that these are people
who are more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators,
because they are very easily led into things because of
their delusions. I find it unlikely personally that he would,

(32:00):
with general paralysis at that stage, have been able to
commit all of those murders, do them in a methodical way,
and seal them, and for that not to come out
when he was in the asylum. As well. Painting a
poor and sick man like Jacob Leavie as a calculating
and deliberate murderer means ignoring obvious aspects of his appalling condition.

(32:26):
Adding to the mix the idea that he was taking
revenge on all prostitutes because a whore had given him syphilis,
and we've returned to that cognitive bias that Laurie Santos
raised earlier, the desire to blame the blameless for their misfortunes,
to dismiss it all as bad things happening to bad people.

(32:52):
I'd hope to end this series on an optimistic note,
since I appreciate it's been sad in some parts and
maddening in others, and what that ending should be crystallized
during my conversation with Laurie about empathy. When my journey
was searching the five victims of Jack the Ripper began,
all I knew was that they were prostitutes, and even

(33:13):
that was wrong. I could barely tell you their names,
let alone where they were born, who they married, what
triumphs they enjoyed, what defeats they suffered. I soon grew
to know them, like them, and of course empathize with them.
I saw beyond the surface to the real women beneath
the awful labels of drunk, vagrant or whore. But I

(33:37):
found that my empathy wasn't confined to the ghosts of
eighteen eighty eight. I told Laurie about walking down a
London street one night and seeing a homeless woman begging
with her child. I'm sure I've walked by countless women
like her in the past, but now I simply couldn't
pass her by. She told me a story about how

(33:57):
she fell into arrears on her rent and her landlord
threw her out with her child. And I was staggered
because this was literally a story right out of the
nineteenth century and right there, right in that same place.
And so I think writing about these women, well, writing

(34:17):
about poverty, writing about individual's experiences, really makes you see
more of the universal human experience, which I think is
the great power of what history should be. It should
be about making a human connection through time, understanding who
we are as human beings. This is the kind of

(34:38):
thing that I think can be so powerful about a
podcast like yours, right is it's kind of like naturally
allowing us to sort of flex our empathy muscles. If
we can empathize with some women who died many, many
years ago, who've been in circumstances who are very unlike ours,
it's kind of a way to kind of boost our
empathy for other people today. So we've reached the end

(35:00):
of the river retold. I'm hopeful that by acquainting ourselves
with Polly, Annie, Elizabeth Kate, and Mary Jane, we've all
flexed our empathy muscles, and with our preconceptions and prejudices challenged,
perhaps we're now primed to show greater understanding and compassion
to others. We might simply dismiss as bad women. After

(35:32):
we completed all the taping for this series, Hannah Jones
sent us a voice message. She'd been mulling over her
interview and my questions on whether she was angry about
the lack of sympathy her great great grandfather has been
shown sitting alone. Hannah went back to the documents detailing
Jacob's decline and Sarah's battle to keep their family afloat,

(35:55):
and then she hit the record button. I think most
people in my family would consider it a bit precious
and bit predentious to be upset and outraged about a
relative that died one hundred and thirty years ago. But
reading those notes again with fresh eyes, I have to
admit it did make me cry. And I suppose the

(36:17):
way that we think about the past, it does color
how we see people in the present, too, So I
wanted to add I have no idea whether Jacob ever
acted on his urges to do violence. We're never going
to be anywhere close to knowing who Jack the Ribbon was.
But if people do remember and talk about Jacob, I
think they should also remember that he was somebody with

(36:40):
a conscience who worried and felt conflicted. He wants round
a solvent business. He had high hopes for his family.
As a teenager, he suffered a horrific trauma when he
found his older brother who died by suicide at the
end of his life. He was all alone and in
pain and confused, and he was only thirty five. So

(37:03):
I just wanted to say that he should be remembered
as a real person and not just somebody who might
tenuously of ben Jack the Ripper. All right, thank you,
that's it. Bad Women The Ripper Retold is brought to

(37:26):
you by Pushkin Industries and me Hallie rubin Hold, and
is based on my book The Five. It was produced
and co written by Ryan Dilley and Alice Fines, with
help from Pete Norton and Courtney Guerino. Pascal Wise Sound
designed and mixed the show and composed all the original music.
He was accompanied by Ellie Wilson on the violin and

(37:46):
Berry Wise and Oliver Vessey on the piano. You also
heard the voice talents of Soulboyer, Sarah Bows, Ben Crowe,
Melanie Gutridge, Gemma Saunders, Rufus Right and Robin Wise. Bad
Women The Ripper Retold was recorded at Warders Studios in
London and sound engineered by Tom Berry, Dave Smith and
Alicia Cunningham. The show also wouldn't have been ospel without

(38:10):
the work of Milabelle, Jacob Weisberg, Jen Guerra, Heather Fane,
Carlie mcgliori, Maggie Taylor, Nicole Morano, Letalmullard, Eric Sander and
Niela Lucan, with special thanks to my agents Sarah Ballard
and Ellie kron An. Additional thanks to Frank McGrath and
Poppy Damon
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