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

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019 - Murder victims - 333 pages
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Winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction

Five devastating human stories and a dark and moving portrait of Victorian London--the untold lives of the women killed by Jack the Ripper.

Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane are famous for the same thing, though they never met. They came from Fleet Street, Knightsbridge, Wolverhampton, Sweden, and Wales. They wrote ballads, ran coffee houses, lived on country estates, they breathed ink-dust from printing presses and escaped people-traffickers.

What they had in common was the year of their murders: 1888. The person responsible was never identified, but the character created by the press to fill that gap has become far more famous than any of these five women.

For more than a century, newspapers have been keen to tell us that "the Ripper" preyed on prostitutes. Not only is this untrue, as historian Hallie Rubenhold has discovered, it has prevented the real stories of these fascinating women from being told. Now, in this devastating narrative of five lives, Rubenhold finally sets the record straight, revealing a world not just of Dickens and Queen Victoria, but of poverty, homelessness and rampant misogyny. They died because they werein the wrong place at the wrong time--but their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nx74defiant - LibraryThing

There is much written about Jack the Ripper. But little about his victims. This covers the lives of the five victims. How did they come to be in White Chapel? We learn about the harshness of life at that time for poor women, the middle and lower classes. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - smorton11 - LibraryThing

Since it’s Nonfiction November, I figured I better catch up on some of the Nonfiction Book Club selections from this year. Though book club is on hiatus until May (I am so burnt out on virtual ... Read full review


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About the author (2019)

HALLIE RUBENHOLD, a social historian and frequent consultant for period dramas, is the author of The Covent Garden Ladies, the inspiration for the Hulu series Harlots, and The Scandalous Lady W. She is also the author of the historical novels Mistress of My Fate and The French Lesson.

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