James Maybrick was a cotton merchant from Liverpool whose name became famous during the late Victorian period. Not for any association to ‘Jack the Ripper’, but for being a renowned victim of murder. An act allegedly perpetrated by his wife, Florence.
‘Sir Jim, ‘ as he enjoyed calling himself, was a complicated character. Consumed with jealousy, rage and bitterness – rolled up with insecurity and narcissism. Combine that with an inhuman tolerance to arsenic and a possible neurosyphilis condition, and you have a human molotov cocktail.
On the surface, he had much to be proud of. He was a successful businessman with a pretty American wife 22 years his junior. He had two beautiful children and a palatial home in the leafy suburbs of Liverpool.
However, I believe the darkness that resided in James was not something that arrived in his 40s. He battled with it internally all his life. The life he started was as a replacement for another by the same name. His brother James died around a year before he was born. He entered the world as an imposter.
His name only became associated with that of ‘Jack the Ripper’ when in March 1992, a scrapbook came to light that insinuated that the author was James Maybrick. The scrapbook does not identify James directly, but it leaves enough clues to give the reader the belief that the author is meant to be James. It signs off as being written by ‘Jack the Ripper’. The scrapbook has largely been met with resistance by the ‘Ripperologist’ community. They cite several challenges with the book, such as its provenance, the ink used, handwriting style, and alleged historical inaccuracies. The funny thing is, none of those things has been conclusively proven either way. That means tantalisingly; the scrapbook could well be genuine.
A further development that same year was when a gold watch emerged. Critics would say convenient timing. I would agree. That’s because it came from the same place the book did. In the rear casing, the initials of the canonical five victims, “I am Jack” and “J Maybrick”, were all etched into the surface. Under scientific analysis, it showed that aged brass particles in the base of the engravings were of some age. The scratched signature eerily resembles James’s marriage licence signature. Personally, the science with the watch was enough to convince me to believe that Jack was James, and James was Jack.
I strongly recommend you also purchase Shirley Harrison’s extremely well-researched book “The Diary of Jack the Ripper”. It will give you much context around my inspiration.
Trying to understand the complexity of James’ life and all that he was, is what ultimately led me to write ‘Jack the Ripper: Threads’.
Whilst it may be a work of fiction, I have tried where possible to include as much accuracy in regards to details of James & Florence’s own lives and movements. I have also tried to give humanity to the five canonical victims by exploring their lives as real people. Not just names on a murder victim list.
I felt this story was too good not to be explored on a more creative level. Right now, with so much in debate with the scrapbook, perhaps a look through the lens of “what if?” could finally unlock the truth about ‘Jack the Ripper’.
Maybrick’s family motto? Time Reveals All.
THE CASE FOR:
Iconoclast – Society’s Pillar (FREE PDF)
THE CASE AGAINST:
David ‘Lord Orsam’ Barrat – Pillars of Sand
JACK THE RIPPER: THREADS
Think you know Jack the Ripper? Think again.
What if ‘Jack the Ripper’ was a cotton merchant from Liverpool? What if the diary or watch, purported to be James Maybrick’s, is genuine? This gripping fictional tale is a circumstantial exploration of James Maybrick being ‘Jack’.
Using a mix of fact and fiction, actual events and characters are brought to life in this gripping story.
Did one of his family members murder him in 1889, ending the reign of terror in London’s Whitechapel?
“Jack the Ripper: Threads” is the debut novel of Jay Hartley.
A historical crime thriller that will challenge everything you thought you knew about history’s most famous unsolved serial murders.