After creating and conducting the highly successful Liverpool Ghost Walk for several months from November 2003 to April 2004, people queried as to whether I would conduct a Jack the Ripper walk in Liverpool. In London, I have conducted several private walks around Whitechapel and Spitalfields to show people the places where the Ripper carried out his crimes, but I obviously couldn't conduct such a walk in my home city, because Jack never set foot here! People, however, have mentioned that a 50-year-old Aigburth cotton merchant named James Maybrick was 'revealed' to be the Ripper in a diary that came to light in 1992. I believe the so-called Diary of Jack the Ripper to be a rather corny and badly written fake, riddled with dozens of glaring errors. When news of the diary first emerged, a top Ripper expert named Melvin Harris predicted that the book 'would be written in a journal or diary with a number of its front pages torn out. Secondly, that it would be written in a simple iron-gall ink. This type of ink is indistinguishable from those used in the 1880s, but is easily made and not difficult to buy. Indeed some thousands of packets of ink-powder, once used in schools, are still around, and often turn up in street markets and antique shops. When mixed, it is a Victorian-style ink.' Melvin Harris was correct. The diary looked like a journal or blank photographic album with a bunch of front-end pages suspiciously cut out. Mr Harris also stated that the ink showed traces of chloroacetamide - which was not used in inks until after the 1940s.
When I read the Diary, I found myself laughing at the numerous historical errors. For example, the diarist states: 'I took refreshment in the Poste House.' During Maybrick's life, the Poste House pub off Dale Street, was not called that, and there was not a single pub in the land called the Poste House in the 1880s. The diarist also states that, after butchering Mary Kelly, he left her breasts on the table. The official police files state categorically that one half of the breasts was left by Kelly's right foot, and the other one was placed under her head. The diarist gets it wrong again when he says he regretted not taking any part of Kelly's body - but the actual Ripper had taken away the woman's heart - a fact suppressed by the police at the time which was only recently unearthed in Scotland Yard's files. The diarist also repeats the common myth about the Ripper leaving rings and farthings at the feet of victim Annie Chapman, when the real Ripper took the woman's rings with him. Chapman didn't even possess a farthing at the time of her death. These are just a few of the many mistakes made in the diary. The handwriting of the diary does not even bare the slightest resemblance to the Maybrick Will and other documents written in Maybrick's own hand. People ignorant of these facts still make 'pilgrimages' to the grave of James Maybrick in Anfield Cemetery - a grave that was smashed in half by desecrators several years ago. James Maybrick, a Victorian murder victim, lies there, and I know he is not at rest.
©Tom Slemen 2004.