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

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

by Hallie Rubenhold


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Miscast in the media for nearly 130 years, the victims of Jack the Ripper finally get their full stories told in this eye-opening and chilling reminder that life for middle-class women in Victorian London could be full of social pitfalls and peril.

The “canonical five” women murdered by Jack the Ripper have always been dismissed as society’s waste, their stories passed down to us wrapped in a package of Victorian assumptions and prejudice. But social historian Hallie Rubenhold sets the record straight in The Five. In reality, only two of the victims were prostitutes, and Rubenhold has uncovered entirely new research about them all—in some cases, material no one has ever seen before.
The Five tells for the first time the true stories of these fascinating women. It delves into the Victorian experience of poverty, homelessness, and alcoholism, but also motherhood, childbirth, sexuality, child-rearing, work, and marriage, all against the fascinating, dark, and quickly changing backdrop of nineteenth-century London. From rural Sweden to the wedding of Queen Victoria, from the London of Charles Dickens to the factories of the Industrial Revolution and the high-class brothels of the West End, these women were not just victims but witnesses to the vagaries and vicissitudes of the Victorian age.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781328663818
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 04/09/2019
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 18,211
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Hallie Rubenhold, former museum curator and social historian, is the author of The Covent Garden Ladies and The Scandalous Lady W, as well as the historical novels Mistress of My Fate and The French Lesson. She frequently appears on television as an expert contributor and acts as an historical consultant for period dramas. She lives in London.

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The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
January Gray 9 months ago
A unique look at the Jack The Ripper murders. The author really did her research! This book adds more heart, depth and history than others I have read about the Ripper.
Anonymous 9 months ago
I can’t even begin to express how important this book is. For decades, the world (myself included) has been fascinated by Jack the Ripper and his eerie murders. There have been numerous films made and books written about him, speculating on who he could be. There are also tours (one of which I’ve personally taken) that shows tourists around Whitechapel and the area in which he operated, tracking his every move and throwing out conspiracy theory upon conspiracy theory as to who he actually was. But in all this excitement and mystery, very few of us actually ask who the victims were. What their lives were like. What circumstances brought them to Whitechapel and in the wrong place at the wrong time when such a brutal killer was at large. We’ve never asked or though about them because we’ve never really cared. Not really. We thought we knew these women. They’re all prostitution right? Wrong. They weren’t. And we don’t know them. At all. Not even the police or newspapers in the Victorian era did. They made up stories about these women and pushed them aside, so we have as well. That is, until now. I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t even know the names of the five victims until reading this, but now I’ll never forget them. Polly. Annie. Elisabeth. Kate. Mary Jane. These were women who tried their best to succeed and failed. Women who deserve to be known as more than just JTR’s victims and gruesome images in the newspaper. Hallie Rubenhold’s THE FIVE shines the spotlight on these women, giving context to who they were and what circumstances molded their lives. This novel is expertly researches and obviously written with great care. It focuses on the women explicitly, leaving out descriptions of their murders and almost completely removing JTR from the story. While I’m not usually one for nonfiction, this book kept my attention throughout and even brought me to tears a handful of times, especially once I reached the conclusion. But the conclusion and its thoughts on how our treatment of these women is not all that different from how women (and victims) are treated today wouldn’t be nearly as effective without the deep dive into each victim. This book should have been written ages ago (and the in-depth and meticulous research should’ve been completed long before that), but Rubenhold’s storytelling and compassion for these women was well worth the wait. THE FIVE is incredibly powerful and will make you rethink the way you view the mythology around the serial killer as well as the way in which you view yourself. These women deserve to be remembered and respected. They deserve to have their names and stories widely known. Polly. Annie. Elisabeth. Kate. Mary Jane.
Anonymous 10 months ago
The Five is a book that tells the story of the five victims of Jack the Ripper. Only this book is different. Our author, Hallie Rubenhold, wants to dispose of old misconceptions about the murders. Researching the conditions in 1888 and the impoverished conditions in which so much of London’s population lived at the time, especially in the Whitechapel area, she states that many of the original theories were inaccurate. For example, she dispels the idea that all of the victims were prostitutes. In this book, Rubenhold portrays each individual life and the circumstances under which Polly, Annie, Elizabeth, Catherine and Mary-Jane lived. Victims of their ties, they dealt with the extreme poverty and the unfairness of being a woman in that epoch. They are very much results and reflections of their times. This well-researched historical account of what is more likely to have been the true story of these sensationalized victims is interesting and it takes us back in time to an unglorified more realistic 1888. I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.
Tangen More than 1 year ago
murder, historical-figures, historical-places-events, historical-research, women, England It's about time that the stories of the victims and all of the marginalized women is told! I only recently learned about the book (and the opera) from a BBC Radio podcast, hopped over to NetGalley and begged for a review copy. As a history geek and a female retired nurse who worked inner city hospital as well as jails, you can believe that this is not an unbiased review. All of the folklore tells of the women being sex workers and alcoholics but not how they came to that end, or how women were viewed and treated at that time. Nor are most people aware of how limited the progress for poor women in ANY country. In telling the stories of each of these women and the author has given them proper eulogies as well as highlighting the inadequate legal process of their time. By the way, how many readers were aware that four of these women were over forty? I requested and received a free ebook copy from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing via NetGalley. Thank you!
ForTheLoveOfReading More than 1 year ago
• Title: The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed By Jack the Ripper • Author: Hallie Rubenhold • Series: Stand Alone • Pages: 336 • Genre: True Crime, Non Fiction, Historical • Rating Out of 5 Stars: 5 My Thoughts: The Jack the Ripper case files have always been a fascinating subject to me. It is rare to see someone have done so much research into the lives of the women who were the victims of such heinous mutilations. Rubenhold does a fantastic job of giving these women back their lives. I learned a great deal that I didn’t before. She goes into their families, what brought them to London, how they ended up at the chance of becoming victims and the misconceptions about their lives in general. While presented clearly it is a little dense of a read. Still highly enjoyed this read and absolutely recommend it.