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Jack the Ripper letter mystery solved by SALC colleague

(1 February 2018)

Dr Andrea Nini from the Linguistics and English Language Department in the School of Arts, Languages and Cultures (SALC) has published research on the analysis of letters supposedly signed by Jack the Ripper.  

The Whitechapel murders that terrorised London in 1888 are still remembered thanks to the legend of Jack the Ripper, who was never caught.

Most of the letters signed ‘Jack the Ripper’ were – and still are – regarded as hoaxes. After the first four were received, the police decided to publish them, after which hoaxers began to send copycat letters claiming to be written by him. Therefore, forensic linguist Dr Andrea Nini decided to focus on two of the earliest letters - the ‘Dear Boss’ letter, in which the Jack the Ripper name was first written, and the ‘Saucy Jacky’ postcard.

Andrea used modern techniques to analyse the letters, which uncovered certain shared distinctive linguistic constructions. He also found evidence that a link exists between these letters and another of the key texts in the case, the ‘Moab and Midian’ letter.