Jack the Ripper, Part IX – “her father cut his throat”

The Jack the Ripper Dossier.

This is the ninth episode of Richard Walker’s new, weekly podcast series on Jack the Ripper.

It’s Part II of the life story of the second “canonical” victim – Annie Chapman.*

Jack London called them “the people of the abyss.” Annie Chapman was one of them. But the abyss wasn’t the manor she was born to. Which makes the tale that much more disquieting, gripping, arresting, horrifying.

Richard takes us there. Takes us to Annie’s life, her London. Charts the beginning and developing stages of her downward spiral. Everything from the “big picture” (“there were 20,000 pubs in London…today there are 3,500; the population today is 9 million, in 1888 it was nearer to 5 million”) to shocking biographical details (“her father cut his throat”) to the tiny “hinge moment” (“that kiss brought about the death of everything her husband had fought to achieve”)  to Annie’s “other Londons” (Knightsbridge and Notting Hill, the antechambers to her Whitechapel).

It’s the usual deal, the more you know about something – in this case about Jack the Ripper’s second victim and her milieu – the more interesting it becomes. As I said last week, in answer to the questions why are we here? why has Richard created this series? why listen to it (apart from its intrinsic interest, I mean)? Here’s why. To see these women as real people – see their backstory, see them in the fullness of their lives – rather than as just sensationalist, one-dimensional, cardboard cutouts – “down-and-out-prostitutes” – is to win through to a much deeper appreciation and understanding of that epochal chapter in the London story. Basically, going there with Richard – hearing the stories he has to tell, seeing the Jack the Ripper story with his eyes – makes for a much richer experience.

Richard Walker – he of the great voice – is the actor, adventurer (he sailed across the Pacific in a tiny two-man skiff) and veteran, high-powered guide who’s created a new version of the Ripper Walk. His walk is called Jack the Ripper’s Whitechapel. It’s an exclusive VIP Ripper walk (it’s a guaranteed small group tour – the numbers are strictly limited).

*N.B. Richard’s “biography” of Annie Champman will run to several brief episodes. This podcast is the second part. It backgrounds “Annie’s first step down not into Alice’s rabbit hole but into Jack London’s “abyss.” It picks up from last week’s curtain line: Life might have been very different if Annie had not been an alcoholic… Indeed, it was different before that terribly cold night and “the kiss.”


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