Jack the Ripper, The Works of Francis Thompson Paperback – 28 Feb 2017
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About the Author
Australian author and researcher, Richard Patterson, first saw that the English poet Francis Thompson could be the Ripper in 1997. The 47-year-old has travelled the world researching his suspect, including visiting the Burns Library in Boston, which holds the worlds largest collection of Thompson s work and letters. He has researched in Lancashire, Thompson s birthplace, and London s East End, the scene of the murders. On the strength of his theory, Patterson has twice been a guest speaker at the annual UK Jack the Ripper Conference, in 2005 in Brighton and more recently, in 2016, in London. Patterson s research has resulted in news articles in papers, magazines and journals, podcasts, and television. Currently there is a documentary being made on him the theory and the making of the book.
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This is not one of those books however. It is written in a sensationalist style that seems to come straight out of the Ripper era ("The woman had been cut up so badly that some of the people who saw her remains later killed themselves"). The evidence for Francis Thompson being the Ripper are flimsy at best and consist mainly of a couple of poems that talk about mutilation, and that Thompson happened to be in the area at the time of the murder. The books is badly edited, the author continually repeats himself, and in one strange passage starts referring to himself in the third person for no obvious reason ("Patterson decided to test his belief on the Jack The Ripper murders.") The author makes a lot of how Thompson's biographers deemed it necessary to sanitize his life, editing out the darker sides of the poet's life - but since we don't know what was edited out it, once again, a case of total speculation what they were trying to hide (if they indeed were trying to hide anything). In order to build his case Patterson sometimes makes ridiculously far-fetched connections between Thompson and the Ripper ("Gillow told of Thompson's obsession for war, 'His tastes were not as ours. Of history he was very fond, and particularly of wars and battles ... to put some of their episodes into the concrete'. This is a telling description of young Francis Thompson, who would one day walk the streets of Spitalfields, where terrorized citizens would feel as if they were under siege by the Ripper") The lack of footnotes also makes it difficult for the reader to check some of the author's claims.
Apparently this book is based on a short article from 1988. I suggest it would have been a better text in the shorter format. There simply isn't enough material for a 400 page book, so the author has had to fill it with his own speculations. A waste of time.
Was Francis Thompson Jack the Ripper? He could have been. The circumstantial evidence is very compelling, in my opinion.
I enjoyed reading the book and highly recommend.
Could've done with better proof reading by the way, not that this is Richard's fault.
Acting on the wise assumption that his target readership will already know those details, he launches straight into the life Francis Thompson and the evidence he has build up to prove his case.
(I found this very refreshing as I always skip past the 'rehash' chapters in any new book)
He lifts Thompson off the page and draws you into his world and mindset. As you progress through the book and the evidence piles up, you wonder if you have wasted time with all those other suspects who have almost no evidence against them. Certainly not as much as this !
Unlike Cornwell, Patterson does not bully you with, 'look at all this 'evidence'. How can you not believe me.'
Instead He shows you Thompsons life, beliefs, writings, and circumstances and says, now examine this when at the same time a killer was stalking the East End.
The only problem I had was that Richard sets out to strongly suggest Thompson was connected to ALL aspects of the JTR phenomena. The letters, Hutchinsons mysterious suspect, the kidney, the grapes, etc.
Sometimes it seems a bit far fetched, especially the grapes story, which has been disproved but even after saying that, Richards arguements do stay with you.
I will not go into great detail so as not to spoil it for others but I will just say this....... I am one of those who hopes the mystery will never be solved but......after reading this.....I am biting my lip VERY hard and thinking Richard may have cracked it.
It is a great book Richard, a true 'must read'.
I look forward to your next book.