The Five
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 were in the wrong place at the wrong time—but their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman.  

The Five Details

TitleThe Five
Author
ReleaseApr 9th, 2019
PublisherHoughton Mifflin Harcourt
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Crime, True Crime, History, Adult

The Five Review

  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    So often we hear stories of the murderer, but nothing of the victims. This author tells us the back story, fortunately omitting grisly details, of the five women thought to have been murdered in the late 1880’s by a serial killer called Jack the Ripper. These women were all pretty much homeless and alcoholic which was “entirely overlooked as a factor in their murders; a ‘houseless creature’ and a ‘prostitute’ by their moral failings were one and the same.” Their world was one of “poverty, homele So often we hear stories of the murderer, but nothing of the victims. This author tells us the back story, fortunately omitting grisly details, of the five women thought to have been murdered in the late 1880’s by a serial killer called Jack the Ripper. These women were all pretty much homeless and alcoholic which was “entirely overlooked as a factor in their murders; a ‘houseless creature’ and a ‘prostitute’ by their moral failings were one and the same.” Their world was one of “poverty, homelessness, and misogyny,” where it was especially difficult for women who were either on their own or in an abusive relationship to survive. It was disturbing to read that some self-righteous Victorian men opined that this murderer was doing a service to society; Rubinhold’s extensive research reveals that “they died because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time—but [that] their greatest misfortune was to be born a woman.” Readers interested in women’s history, particularly during the Victorian period, would undoubtedly enjoy this fascinating book.
    more
  • Jenny
    January 1, 1970
    Rubenhold focuses on Polly, Annie, Elisabeth, Kate, and Mary Jane, the five women considered to be the canonical victims of Jack the Ripper. These five women were daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers with complex lives that have been reduced to caricatures and incorrect ones at that. Only two of the women were ever actually linked to sex work, contrary to the accepted version of history that says all five were prostitutes. Does it matter? Did their lives hold any less value if they were sex wo Rubenhold focuses on Polly, Annie, Elisabeth, Kate, and Mary Jane, the five women considered to be the canonical victims of Jack the Ripper. These five women were daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers with complex lives that have been reduced to caricatures and incorrect ones at that. Only two of the women were ever actually linked to sex work, contrary to the accepted version of history that says all five were prostitutes. Does it matter? Did their lives hold any less value if they were sex workers? Rubenhold says of the women that “in order to gawp at and examine this miracle of malevolence we have figuratively stepped over the bodies of [his victims] and in some cases, stopped to kick them as we walked past.” That’s exactly right and it’s sickening. Received via Edelweiss and the publisher in exchange for a honest review.
    more
  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    I'd like to thank Edelweiss and the publisher for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review. While I did enjoy this book, I did find parts of it slow going and hard to slog through but overall it had lots of interesting information.
  • Alexandra
    January 1, 1970
    sent to me for review
Write a review