Wednesday, June 29, 2005

More Double Posting from Blottered 

Sometime in the early hours of the thirty-first of August, 1888, Mary Ann Walker was murdered in London's East End. Known to friends and acquaintances as Polly, Walker was plying her trade as a prostitute through the night in an effort to earn enough for a bed at the flop-house where she was staying when she became the first of Jack Ripper's five known victims. (Some speculate there were more.)

The Ripper was never caught and his identity has never been established. The latest theory claims that the Ripper was a merchant seaman who performed similiar grisly acts in Latin America, according to the Mirror.

Over the years there have been plenty of plausible explanations of the Ripper's identity. My personal favorite was told to me by a white bearded reactionary in a pub in southwest Ireland after we had both had a few two many pints of the dark stuff. He was convinced that the murderer was a woman named Annie Wood Besant. A socialist and feminist agitator, Besant had helped organize the Matchgirls Strike after the sources for an article she had published on the poor working conditions of women in London were fired by their employers.

As I recall, Besant's alleged motive for the murders involved the strike--the murdered women were either scabs or police informants. It was also possible, he told me, that the murders were part of Besant's initiation into the weird Theosophist cult that was then lighting fires in the minds of the era's intellectuals. Or maybe it wasn't the Theosophists at all, but a far more sinister cult. The last thing the old guy said before wandering off was: "Feminism is a murder cult founded by Medea."