Polly Nichols, Annie Chapman, Liz Stride, Kate Eddowes, and Mary Jane Kelly might be contenders for the most written about women in all of history, and yet their names mean little unless connected with that of their killer: Jack the Ripper. Every text that pursues the Ripper must mention them-and describe their mutilated bodies in detail-but the women themselves remain just as mysterious as their murderer. It has been over a century since the Ripper stalked prostitutes through the streets of Whitechapel, and myriad authors have tried again and again to give the murderer a name, a face, and a biography. But what of the women?
Here for the first time we see a survey of what those books have had to say about the Canonical Five victims of Jack the Ripper. These authors have at times nearly passed over the living women in order to focus on their corpses, but each has revealed something about how contemporary society viewed those who met the Ripper's knife. This book explores the changing attitudes toward these five women in order to examine how cultural perception of victims has-or has not-changed since the Victorian era.