Jack the Ripper and the East End
According to the 1881 census, over one million people lived in London’s East End, with up to one third living in poverty. For those living outside the area, the East End was regarded as an ‘alien place’ full of poverty and crime. Two out of every ten children died, and diseases like tuberculosis, rickets and scarlet fever were very common. The life expectancy of an East End labourer was less than 19 years.
However, for many families, the East End was also a place of safety, particularly for the large numbers of eastern European Jewish refugees fleeing economic hardship and persecution. Others also settled in the area, including Irish dockers and Asian and Chinese seamen.
It was here that Jack the Ripper murdered at least five women in 1888, disappearing into the alleys of the East End and baffling police.
The name ‘Jack the Ripper’ came from a letter sent to the Central News Agency, signed in red – it may or may not have been from the killer, but the name stuck.
- Introduction (this page)
- Why were living conditions so bad in the East End?
- How did people survive?
- Who were Jack the Ripper’s victims?
- Why didn’t the police catch Jack the Ripper?
- How did the Jack the Ripper story end?
- Further information
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