Preview of the Jack the Ripper Conference 2012

13 September 2012

Contemporary and imaginative engraving of Mary Kelly.

Along with pretty much every other Ripperologist in the country, I’m off to the Jack the Ripper Conference in York in a couple of weeks time and can hardly wait. It’s being held on the anniversary of the so called ‘double event’, the murders of both Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes, and looks like it’s going to be the weekend from hell. Hah. Did you see what I did there? Okay, moving on.

Sadly this means that I won’t be at the HNS Conference which is taking place in London the same weekend but I think I know where I’d rather be! I used to live near York for a while when I was a teenager and have visited the fair city hundreds of times since childhood. I haven’t been back for many years now so am looking forward to night time strolls past the Minster and all sorts of fun.

I expect that some of you are imagining something akin to the Monty Python Hospital for Over-Actors when I mention the Jack the Ripper Conference, where we all dress up in long black opera cloaks, wear top hats and carry old fashioned doctor’s bags while someone out of sight pumps fake fog into the room and we cackle ‘THE JUWES ARE THE MEN THAT WILL NOT BE BLAMED FOR NOTHING’ maniacally in unison. Well, you’d be wrong as Ripperologists are actually a pretty diverse bunch.

Still from From Hell, 2001.

We’ve got a veritable cornucopia of talks and events lined up for us over the weekend with talks from John Bennett on James Lampard; Robert Anderson on The Diary of Jack the Ripper; Neil R. Storey on ‘The Dracula Secrets: Jack the Ripper and the Darkest sources of Bram Stoker’; Trevor Bond chatting about ‘writing Mary Kelly’ and Trevor Marriott talking about ‘Missing Organs and the Clue at Goulston Street’. Cor. I’m really looking forward to the talk about Mary Kelly as I have a semi finished novel about her trapped on my Scrivener.

On the Sunday there is Lindsay Siviter’s talk about Sir William Gull; Martin Fido chatting about ‘the rest of the world on 30th September 1888’; Rob House talking about Aaron Kosminski and then finally criminal profiler Laura Richards with the very exciting sounding ‘Profiling Jack the Ripper: Using 21st Century Techniques to Understand a 19th Century Killer’.

As well as all this we are getting treated to a demonstration of a Victorian copper’s lantern in the alleyways of York (being descended from one of H Division I’m really keen to see this as my ancestor may well have hefted one about the streets of Whitechapel in 1888, poor sod), an optional ghost walk (I’m there with bells on) and a dinner at one of the colleges, although I’m not sure how much I’m going to want to eat after Trevor Marriott’s talk about missing organs and Catherine Eddowes’ blood smeared apron.

Christ Church Spitalfields. Photo: my own.

I think it’s going to be amazing and I really can’t wait to hobnob with some of the really awfully nice Ripperologists that I’ve been chatting to online, many of whom have written books and articles that I have read with great interest. As I’ve said many times before on this blog, despite having been a Ripperologist ever since my mid teens in the eighties, I’ve never really been interested in unmasking the killer – my interest is almost entirely in his victims and the lives of other women in the area, as well as the shifting social history of Whitechapel itself so this is going to be a rare treat for me and hopefully a chance to learn lots of new things about the case.

Are you going too? Come and say hello!