The Five is the first full-length biography to explore and contextualize the lives of the five victims of Jack the Ripper. Offering new insights and drawing on previously unseen or unpublished material, its focus is entirely on the women and not on their murderer.
The story of Jack the Ripper has captivated our attention for over 130 years. Daily, tourists from around the globe make pilgrimages to visit the places where the ‘canonical five’ women; Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Kate Eddowes and Mary Jane Kelly were murdered while never knowing more than just the most basic ‘facts’ about their lives. Ask anyone unfamiliar with the details of the case what they know about Jack the Ripper and the response will almost certainly be ‘he killed prostitutes’.
But what if virtually everything we’d ever come to assume about these five women was largely untrue? What if our general lack of understanding of how poor, working class women lived or how ‘respectable society’ viewed them has led us to believe that all of these women were ‘just prostitutes’, and that somehow this label has made their lives less worthy of exploration or commemoration? What if we learned that none of them were born in Whitechapel, or even in the East End, but ended up there after living full lives elsewhere? What if we learned that these women had been either wives or mothers or both? What would we think of ourselves and our society for never having questioned these things?
The Five promises to completely change the narrative of the Ripper murders. As an investigation into these women’s experiences, it traces the surprising triumphs and heart-breaking difficulties they encountered throughout their lives. In hearing their stories it will be impossible for us to ever again see them as something other than daughters, wives, sisters, lovers and mothers or to remember them simply as nameless, faceless victims.
The Five is available in bookshops and online in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other English language territories. Foreign language editions coming soon in Italian, German and Finnish. The UK English language audio version is available here and will be available in the US by the end of 2019.
Interviews with Hallie about writing The Five:
What the critics say about The Five:
Mail on Sunday : “FIVE STARS: At last, the Ripper’s victims get a voice… An eloquent, stirring challenge to reject the prevailing Ripper myth.” (Gwen Smith )
The Guardian: “Forests have been felled in the interests of unmasking the murderer, but until now no one has bothered to discover the identity of his victims. The Five is thus an angry and important work of historical detection, calling time on the misogyny that has fed the Ripper myth. . . This is a powerful and a shaming book, but most shameful of all is that it took 130 years to write.” (Frances Wilson)
Daily Mail : “By collating these five deeply affecting biographies … Rubenhold has given these women the immortality that their murderer does not deserve.”
Sunday Times : ‘‘Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride, Catherine Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly deserve to be thought of as more than eviscerated bodies on an East London street. This haunting book does something to redress that balance.” (Daisy Goodwin)
The Spectator: “… a magnificently vivid book that shows how — despite the degradations inflicted by violent men, inept police and a bloodthirsty public — dead women can be given back their voices. ”
The Washington Post : “Rubenhold aims to restore them to history as full human beings…Her riveting work, both compassionate group portait and stinging social history, finally gives them their due”.
“How fitting that in the year when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, dignity is finally returned to these unfortunate women.” (Professor Dame Sue Black, author of ALL THAT REMAINS)
“A Ripper narrative that gives voice to the women he silenced; I’ve been waiting for this book for years. Beautifully written and with the grip of a thriller, it will open your eyes and break your heart.” (Erin Kelly, author of HE SAID/SHE SAID)
“What a brilliant and necessary book” (Jo Baker, author of LONGBOURN)
“Devastatingly good. The Five will leave you in tears of pity and of rage.” (LUCY WORSLEY)
“Stupendous. The sort of work that keeps history vital.” (IMOGEN HERMES GOWAR, author of THE MERMAID AND MRS HANCOCK)
“Fascinating, compelling, moving, The Five makes a fierce, passionate argument about the ethics of how we engage with murder. A brilliant,properly thoughtful, responsible piece of political writing.” (BRIDGET COLLINS, author of THE BINDING