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The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold

Catherine Meyrick

Between August and November 1888, five women were killed in Whitechapel, all believed to be the victim of a single killer. The identity and the behaviour of the killer has fascinated multitudes since to the point where the killer has achieved almost mythic status, the women he killed dismissed as prostitutes, mere footnotes to the story.

In The Five Hallie Rubenhold examines the lives of each of these five women—Mary Anne ‘Polly’ Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elisabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Ann Kelly. She traces their lives from their parents’ backgrounds and their own childhoods through the vicissitudes of their lives—marriages, childbearing, the search for work and shelter, poverty, alcohol dependence, homelessness—to the circumstances that brought them to Whitechapel in 1888. Their lives were not unlike a large portion of London’s working class in the 19th century; it was only the circumstances of their deaths that brought them to…

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