Thursday, 24 December 2015

Jack the Ripper and the Gladstone Bag

The Gladstone Bag has featured in macabre tales of murder and mystery, fictional and fact, and was once widely associated with the original Jack the Ripper who roamed the streets of Victorian London. 

Many people, then and now, believe the Ripper was a doctor, probably an American, making regular trips to London, and using a Gladstone Bag to carry the tools of both his ethical and immoral trades.

If he was indeed a doctor, it’s very likely the Ripper did carry a Gladstone Bag, as did many other professional people, not only medical types.  However, wide popularity for the two compartment Gladstone Bag among doctors led to the Gladstone Bag also being known as a ‘doctor’s bag’. 

And that is why Victorian newspapers of the day commonly described Jack the Ripper as roaming through foggy London streets, trailing alongside the silhouette of a tall man wearing a top hat and carrying a Gladstone Bag.

But even with his giveaway Gladstone Bag trademark, the man stalking and killing London prostitutes was never officially identified.  Even so, many people of Victorian and later times who studied the case of the Ripper, professionally and for pleasure (!!), believe the most likely culprit for a host of murders in Whitechapel, London, was an American surgeon who allegedly removed rings from the fingers of some of his victims and apparently died holding those souvenirs close to his chest. 

But what of his Gladstone Bag?  What became of that?  The answer is anyone’s guess.

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