In my book ‘Jack the Ripper: Threads (2021)’, I coin a Victorian-era phrase. “A night in Venus can lead to a lifetime on Mercury.” This phrase was used to describe what could happen if you engaged the services of a prostitute and contracted syphilis. You would undoubtedly be given a prescription for heavy metal drugs, one being mercury, a standard medication for this disease back then. In the early 20th century, advances in antibiotics saw the demise of such medicines being prescribed.

As well as a planetary reference to Venus; another such famous reference would be Venus de Milo—an ancient Greek sculpture. However, the Venus I am interested in this post is that of the medical kind.


I often receive emails from various people who have an interest in the Jack the Ripper case. Sometimes they are notes of appreciation, which I am grateful for. Generally, they have read this blog or seen some of my posts on or

One correspondent, who I will call Jane, is very interested in the murder of Mary Jane Kelly. She has an intense fascination with this particular victim, how she was killed and what her true identity and backstory could have been. MJK is a mystery within a mystery. Jane alerted me to these creations.

I was not previously aware of the concept of anatomical venuses. Initially made in wax in the late 18th century, these models, artistically and quite accurately, depicted the inner workings of the female body. Although time-consuming and costly to produce, they often would provide a big pull to Human Anatomy museums and similar showcases.


The resemblance between the Mary Jane Kelly crime scene and Anatomical Venus is uncanny. Having shared this discovery on the forums, I was soon instructed that this was not the first time this had been noticed. Michael Hawley and Christer Holmgren made comparisons in their respective books and talks.


The Liverpool Museum of Anatomy appeared to have such a Venus on display, according to an 1877 catalogue available online. This museum is mentioned in my book ‘Jack the Ripper: Threads (2021)’, and now it would appear that this very same establishment, located less than five minutes from where James Maybrick grew up, actually displayed such a Venus.


Whilst it does not categorically prove that James Maybrick ever saw this particular model, it does add another circumstantial quirk to his candidacy as Jack the Ripper. It can be easily argued that many such models were on display across the country during the Victorian era, and any potential candidates could have come into contact with such inspiration. I am simply leaving it here as the additional quirk of circumstance that it is.


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