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A bit of a ripper-off?
on 28 October 2012
Is this book a rip-off? That depends on the individual perspective. From a purely Ripperologistic viewpoint, this book is essentially about one image; but it is an incredibly important one, which cannot be found anywhere else and was only recently discovered (by the author), having remained unknown and unseen for probably the best part of 100 years. If you feel the need to see and own a copy of this image, then this book is worth having - though you may want to try to get it as cheaply as possible. If, however, you are hoping for lots of exciting pictures, then you will be disappointed; in fact, much of this book (including many of the images) have little or nothing (directly) to do with the Ripper case. What it does do well, though, is fully validate the provenance and authenticity of the amazing Dutfield's Yard image - don't expect a high quality and detailed image, here; but do be most grateful that it exists! It should also be noted that all the images are presented in black and white, despite the fact that the 1960's photo's were shot in colour...?
I don't really think this book should be described as 4 or 5 star; but 1 star would certainly be too harsh, because if you want to know everything there is to know about the Ripper case, this book is a must have in the furtherance of that quest. (2.5 stars would be fairest.)
NB: My advice is to obtain 'The London of Jack the Ripper: Then and Now', which the author of this book is a co-author. This was published 2 years earlier than this book, just before the Dutfield's Yard image was discovered, and is much more definitive from a pure Ripperology perspective - it just lacks one image, however... [Incidentally, there is one other image in this book, not found in the 'Then and Now' book: this is an image of the yard at the back of 29 Hanbury St taken from a different angle to the one in the former book, but unfortunately is small and darkly reprinted.]
Footnote: I have since discovered that there is another photo of Dutfield's Yard, taken from the inside, with a clear view of the area where the murder took place - this was taken in the 1930's by William Stewart and appears in 'The East End - Then & Now'; this photo also shows the wooden gates that were in place at that time, which although not the originals, give a close approximation of what it would have actually looked like - this book also includes a number of other ripper crime scene photo's taken in the 1930's, 1960's & 1970's, none of which appear in any other source that I have so far come across. This does not detract from the significance of the new photo, but it would seem that the claim that is the only one of an inner view of the yard, is erroneous.