Who was Jack the Ripper? The Quiet City blog article

The year was 1888.

The place was Whitechapel, east London, England.

In a year of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee and the height of the British empire a single person would thrust the world into the next century. A single murderer, a serial killer would push social change and create a legend that is still mysterious and compelling today.

From a letter that started “Dear Boss” referring to George Lusk of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, the name was born. Whether it came from the killer we will never know, but it was crudely signed “From Hell, Jack the Ripper.”

Between August and November of that year is believed to be the Ripper’s main period of activity. During that time seven or more kills are attributed to Jack, with five that cannot be questioned.

Called the Canonical Five, their deaths shocked people around the world with the sheer brutality and the Ripper’s ability to kill so savagely and then seemingly blend into the night. It did not help that crime scene investigation was still in it’s infancy with the exception of the French legend Eugene Francois Vidocq in 1857 who incidentally inspired both Sir Authur Conan Doyle with his character “Sherlock Holmes” and Victor Hugo with his character “Jean Valjean.”

The Canonical Five were, in order…

Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly

Whitechapel 1888

Named the Whitechapel Murderer and Leather Apron for a piece of cloth that was left at the crime scene of Catherine Eddowes (though it could have also been a piece of her own clothing) the number of possible suspects are numerous.

Many are connected to aspects of the crimes and a few have confessed but with no final conviction ever publicly made.

William Henry Bury caught the attention of Ripper investigator Frederick Abberline for the fact that Bury had killed his own wife in a similar way to the death of first victim Mary Ann “Polly” Nichols.

Thomas Neil Cream who had been a killer in both North America and England, and was a doctor with the knowledge of anatomy that would have assisted in the killers more vicious trademarks famously had the last words while being hung “I am Jack the…

There is the Royal Conspiracy, portrayed by Johnny Depp in the movie “From Hell”, which involved members of the freemasons leaping to the defense of the Royal family who were being blackmailed by a prostitute.

There was polish immigrant George Chapman who had poisoned three of his wives before being hung in 1903. Like Thomas Cream he had a high degree of medial knowledge which is still debated as to whether necessary. Many maintain that a butcher could have been just as effective, provided the person had the strength to inflict the wounds that were done so deeply and quickly. The change in way of killing makes Chapman also potentially unlikely.

Francis Tumblety was another possible killer who knew Whitechapel well. Arrested for gross indecancy he collected uteruses and pretended to be a doctor. He fled London in November 1888 at the end of the murders though his kind of kill never came up again in the North American cities where he fled to, something unusual for a serial killer.

Most famous and considered very possible was Aaron Kosminski, a 23 year old polish immigrant who was certified insane in 1891 and was committed an asylum. His name first appears in a police constables memo as a possible killer with a strong hatred of women and homocidal tendancies. One theory is that the police themselves kept his incarceration quiet as no good could come from the suggestion that a polish jew was guilty of something that had already incited antisemtic and racial hatred in the London streets. Kosminksi also resembled a man who ran from a constable during one of the murders. But there is also every possibilty that his connections to the murders was put in place to create the perfect hated scapegoat so even with recent findings involving the DNA of a decendant of Kosminski we will never know.

In The Quiet City I will bring in my own version of the ripper again, one connected to Whitechapel but in very new and hopefully unexpected way.

Thank you for reading my blog post and if you like it and want to know more about my historical thriller set in Victoria Canada, please follow and give this post a like! I have more blogs planned before I launch the book as well as the “Writer” section of my site which has links to some of my other work including the Telus Optik winner “Ollie and Emma”.

Thank you again for supporting indepedant artists!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

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The Quiet City – the characters

On a fall morning in 1910 a Vital Statistics clerk was found with his neck broken inside the west tower of the Victoria, British Columbia legislative buildings…

And that was just for openers.

Developing characters and how they interact is the most important part of any work, from drama to comedy to even this kind of historical fiction. Two are based in modern day Victoria BC, the rest are in 1910.

Born : May 5th, 1887 Kingston

Government employee and veteran of the Boer War, he never left his standard of military excellence behind, or the thingas father told him about why they had to leave his hometown behind.

Born: Sept 1st, 1997

Having worked at the Royal BC museum as an archivist for a year, this 23 year old First Nations anthropologist came home one day to more than she bargained for.

Both born : October 31st 1870

Highly educated, not just in England but as far flung as the Al-Qarawiyyin libraries of Morocco, James and Penny are the illustrious fraternal twins with connections from royalty to architect Francis Mawson Rattenbury.

Born : August 21st, Cridge home Victoria .

Daughter of Lekwungen mother Marie and French Canadian father Rene, Jenny tries to take care of her mother since father went missing. One day, taking care of everyone as the cheery nurse she was known to be, she met a very interesting man.

Born : November 13th, 1987, on a ferry.

Resident of Beecher Bay reservation and his own private retreat on southern Pender Island, to say Michael is an unusual man is an understatement. His strength with special gifts started very, very early in life, so much that he has found crowds too uncomfortable. He will soon have to face this head on.

Born : 1844 London, Whitechapel

Now the Sergeant at Arms for the British Columbia parliament buildings, Roger takes his role in security seriously. He doesn’t talk much about his life before he settled in Victoria.

Stay tuned!

Thank you for reading and supporting independent artists. Please follow as I get closer to my first The Quiet City teaser!

Cheers,

Tom Pogson

“The Quiet City”, Behind the Scenes of a novel

Having done many years of work in bands and filmmaking projects, I love the idea of sharing the journey of a project. The art is how it’s jumbled together and smoothed into a work, but this is the slow moving factory. With something like this, set in actual history with fiction trying to run through it, it’s going to be huge. You have to return to your own notes regularly to keep it connected. You are connecting dots well outside of the storyline.

The scope of the full timeline starts in the 1880s and ends as recent as tomorrow. That’s a big factory floor.

Telegraph Bay, 1900

This was one of the reasons that The Quiet City had an earlier start approximately seven years back. At the time I was working as a cleaner and going to Uvic writing full time. One of the inspirations was being in some of those buildings like the Dunsmuir’s summer home that became the Fort Rodd Hill administration building. I also lived about a ten minute walk from this…

I wanted to include some of my favorite things about early Victoria such as the Victoria and Sidney Railway, the streetcars now gone with only slight remnants of their existence remaining as well as the birth of my own corner of town…Cook Street Village.

With about ten places to get coffee in two and a half blocks, Cook Street is a popular chill out part of Greater Victoria but before about 1909 it was a marshy dairy pasture to quote painter and writer Emily Carr. Incidentally Emily doesn’t make a personal appearance but she gets involved in the story along with a person who deserves a movie of his own…Francis Mawson Rattenbury.

Anyways with these in mind the story was set in partly 1910 which set me off to every place that I could go, besides online to see and hear what it was like back then here…

Fort Street near Douglas. Yeah, I’m in the new Tim’s.

The image pictured about is at the Heritage Room of the Greater Victoria Public Library where I spent most time, but also the archives near the Museum where part of the story now takes place along with Victoria Archives, Saanich Archives and Sidney as well as the Royal BC Museum.

Back years ago I actually stopped to work on something else as I wanted this to have more time to actually focus on it. I want to make the details as accurate as possible as the stranger fiction needs a firm support. Not only that but it is fun to get the details. I was so excited by the Betty Bell’s book “This Fair land, Saanich” which goes into life in the Saanich Peninsula in fine detail as she lived there. That photo of myself reading is in the local history room (aforementioned Heritage Room) where so many treasures are hidden.

Even just wandering around Victoria can get your imagination going, whether it’s trying to find the hidden tunnels under the city or looking at houses in Fairfield.

There have been lots of little parts of the story that have been either created or effected by the research outside of just the setting which was of course very different and more languid than today’s pace.

Fitting in this perfectly was the often late Victoria and Sidney Railway that was that way due to its often late ferry connection, the Iroquois that could take you from the Pier in Sidney to Nanaimo.

Sadly this boat met its end a little ways after 1911 which didn’t help business for the Victoria and Sidney either, a train so underpowered that when it climbed northbound through Royal Oak towards Elk Lake, passengers could jump off, grab a beer from the nearby pub and hop back on without missing a beat.

But of course history was about more than just locations. There’s details on current events, fashion, and what it was like to live back then.

Above is a modern Government Street, but back then this wasn’t just the actual main drag, but actually the oldest street in Western Canada. If you wanted it, it was here with government offices on the west side of the road (your Post Office) and your green grocers, stores and pubs on the east side. The Brown Jug was a particularly famous one on the corner of Government and Fort, now a jewelry store.

And of course, the aforementioned world of paranormal and my very evil special guest, Jack the Ripper.

The legend and mystery of Jack and the canonical five victims has also been a major part of the story, so it naturally lead to going over any books and videos I could get my hands on. My take on the Ripper is very different from what’s been before and specific to this story so, without giving too much away I had to research some other things to compliment this.

Anyways that’s about it for now.

Thank you for reading and please follow so you can catch the next entry on the creation of this historical thriller. And definitely check out the writer page here at tompogson.com to see my other work, along with my music projects such as Cookeilidh.

Cheers!

Tom Pogson