The Maybrick Diary and the Maybrick watch were on view at a the Fifth International Investigative Psychology Conference held at Liverpool University on September 14th - 16th The Conference was organised by professor David Canter PhD, author of "criminal shadows" and Director of the Centre for Investigative Psychology at the University.
The Conference was attended by 200 delegates from universities and police organisations around the world, who spent three days discussing "New Directions in Offender Profiling."
At a plenary seminar on September 15th Profesor David Canter posed the question: "Was Jack the Ripper a Scouser?" Speakers were Keith Skinner, historical researcher and co-author of "The Jack the Ripper A-Z"; Shirley Harrison, whose enlarged, updated edition of "The Diary of Jack the Rippert" will be published by Blake in October, with a preface by Professor Canter; and Professor Canter himself.
Their focus was the psychopathology of the Diary and its place in the study of serial killers.
In the Conference programme, Professor Canter, who plans an ongoing study of the Diary wrote: "Since millions of Deutschmark were lost on the fraudulent Hitler diaries there has been a huge reluctance to take seriously any other claim to have found an important private memoir of a notorious person. But the gullibility that was exploited by the forger of the Hitler diaries, Konrad Kujau, teaches us that the persona that emerges from such a document is the best test of its authenticity. Kujau created a totally uaconvincing Hitler, ignorant of the major atrocities and fiascos of the war. By contrast, the 'Jack the Ripper' Diary creates a character that is remarkably convincing.
"Who then, could have forged such a document? What profile can we draw up of the inventor of the Jack the Ripper Diaries? It is the answer to this question that gives us the strongest way of testing its authenticity.
"In effect, this is the scientific strategy of generating as many plausible hypotheses as possible and testing each to destruction. Sadly, apart front Shirley Harrison's work, such an approach has not been taken with this Diary and the challenge to its authenticity by tabloid journalists has been no better than the ignorant proclamations that initially defended the genuineness of the Hitler diaries. As Conan Doyle pointed out, when the implausible has been dismissed you are lett with the only possibility. who is the most plausible author of the 'jack the Ripper' Diary?
Speaking at the Conference, Shirley Harrison said that she believed the author was James Maybrick. She recalled the words of writer Charles Hamilton, author of the book "The Hitler Diaries".
"In the case of forgery, a skilled fabricator may imitate individual letters and words so perfectly that only an expert with years of experience can detect his fakery. But feel, on the other hand, is a subtle tell-tale clue that mocks the the most adroit forger..."
She said; "I know exactly what he means and I believe that it is the feel of this diary we are trying to understand today. For although so much time and energy and money has been spent on dissecting the material evidence it presents, there has been no attempt by our vociferous critics to examine its psychopathology.
"This is why I am so grateful to professor Canter for having the interest to explore the mind of the man who wrote it. Charles Hamilton's description of the discovery of the Hitler diaries could have been a summary of our own story.
"In April 1983, he wrote 'a madness was about to infect the literate world, a madness that, in many cases warped and corrupted the ability to think and showed how easily mortals can succumb to delusion. historian against historian, publisher against pnblisher and expert against expert and had confused half the world's populace'.
She continued "this was the hoax to which newspapers in Germany, America and for me, most importantly, The Sunday Times in Britain, fell so spectacularly foul and for which they paid huge sums of money. This was the scandal in whose shadow I have been working ever since this Diary came to light. I understand now why The Sunday Times, when presented with the opportunity of serialising my book...leapt on the chance to save face. Our Diary too pitted historian against historian, expert against expert, journalist against journalist and Ripperologist against Ripperologist."
Keith Skinner, whose objective, meticulous research has logged every step since the Diary emerged in 1992, gave his reasons for not believing that James Maybrick was Jack the Ripper. Above all, he said, for him was the problem that the handwriting bears no apparent resemblance to that of James Maybrick. "But this does not mean" he said, "that I believe it to be a modern hoax - I don't. I believe it is old, possibly from the early part of the century".
But Keith noted that influential Ripper authorities and experts had declared early on, it was scientifically andhistorically impossible for the journal to have been forged in the early 20th century. The argument had thus become polarised genuine versus modern.
"To add to the confusion Anne Graham's testimony and that of her late father, seriously challenges scholarship and the Groves of Academe." Anne Graham is the former wife of Michael Barrett who brought the diary to London in 1992 claiming that it had been given to him by a friend, Tony Devereux.
He stressed the importance of remembering the plea of Paul Begg, author of 'Jack the Ripper, The Uncensored Facts" that researchers should constantly ask themselves "Who wrote this journal, when was it written and why?"
Professor Canter then told delegates:
"When I first read the Diary I was struck by how unstructnred the writing was. It is not really a diary in the usual sense.... more a journal of thoughts and feelings There are no clear or regular dates, it meanders from thoughts to accounts of events to plans for action The record of the
crimes and reactions to relatives and acquaintances are all mixed together.
"This is inventive psychological writing of the highest order.. . For if most people sat down to write a convincing diary about another's life I am sure they would place the publcally known events of that life clearly for the reader to see. Indeed, the fraudulent diarist would have to take the public events as a starting point and build the diary around them. But our fraudster is much more cunning than that. The things noted in the Diary are those that would be of interest to the author. It does not focus on what others have seen him do....
"Indeed, few novelists could capture the all embracing egocentricity with its mix of gloating irony that this Diary has...
"There is anotherr, rather more objective test that psychologists have fashioned to help determine the authenticity of an account. It has been graced with the rather grand title of Criteria Based Content Analysis but what it amounts to is a list of aspects of an account. These aspects are taken to reveal the density of experience on which the account draws and the sort of detail that would be more likely to come from genuine experience than fabrication. Of course, creative writers, as they work, unconsciously tick off the criteria, for making invention seem genuine, but less effective imaginations do miss a few tricks. The point most often missed is the almost irrelevant detail, or casnal aside, that embeds the narrative within a particular context, especially when that detail does not really move the story forward and may actually undermine its obvious purpose: as for example when a rape victim mentions that after the assault she was worried about being late for work
"The author of the Diary is a particular master of the casual aside, the irrelevant detail that implies a person whose mind is not entirely on the events he is describing, who seems to be writing to sort out his own feelings and not just to tell a story. He may be bragging about having fooled the police and yet there is still the need to record how cold his hands felt.
The author of the Diary has a particularly clever way of keeping these irrelevancies coherent with the character he is creating. We are given a man who thinks nothing of murdering and mutilating others but is nonetheless psychologically vulnerable. After the most violent outburst he notes that 'the children enjoyed Christmas'
There is one more clear indication of the character of the fraudster/noveiist expert. This is the very clever focus on a Liverpudlian. Jack the Ripper is a London character par excellence It is a stroke little short of genins to spot the trial of Florence Maybrick for murdering her husband and work the fiction backwards from that point to invent her alleged victim as Jack the Ripper ...."
Michael Barrett himself made an unscheduled but not entirely unexpected appearance at the Conference. He was invited to speak for ten minutes and told delegates how he forged the Diary. Much of what he had to say has already appeared on the Internet and has been rebutted in every detail.
Shirley Harrison concluded: "There have been six years of contradictory evidence from experts. Six years of angry debate and lurid headlines before the Diary has attracted serious academic attention.
"Most forgeries are quickly identified and the forger found. There has been no unmasking of the Ripper Diary and no forger has emerged, there is no Mr Big banking millions. Far from it; huge expense has been incurred not only on research but on legal fees. In the case of the Hitler diaries large sums had been paid to the forger before publication.
"We hope now that Professor Canter and those of you hare today may be able to guide us behind the mind of the man who wrote the Maybrick Diary. We would also be delighted to hear from others involved in offender profiling around the world, who would be interested in its further exploration
An Interview With Prof. Canter
A transcript of a television interview preceeding the Conference...
Dr. David Canter of Liverpool UniversityThe thought processes it reveals are really very nasty ones. It shows a person developing a contact with the idea of murder. Being somewhat horrified initially, and then becoming more and more involved in the process of thinking about the murders, and to some extent actually enjoying them.
Interviewer: Do you think this diary is genuine?
Dr Canter: I dont think it can be said categorically one way or the other. The whole point of involving it in this big international conference .it really deserves serious consideration because it has been dismissed up to now on very flimsy ground really.
Interviewer: What does the diary say that makes you think as a psychologist that it was written by him though?
Dr Canter: Im not sure that Im absolutely convinced that it was written by the person who did those killings in Whitechapel. It certainly was written by somebody who knows what it feels like to be angry and vicious and somebody who can develop through the stages of thought that a vicious criminal will go through. It starts off with an exploration of what it might feel like, and what the particular mood might be, and it then develops from that into an almost enjoyment of the activities it reports that it has gone through. So that is a very subtle sort of development of the thought processes in the document. The other interesting thing, and important point, is it is not a diary in the usual sense its not dated with what happened on any particular day its a series of meandering thoughts that surround the different events.
Interviewer: So is it relevant today? Is there anything the criminal psychologist of today can learn from it?
Dr Cantor: Well I think it forces us to think more clearly about the thought processes that a criminal goes through, and what the genuine thought processes are of somebody who is really violent and how they may differ from somebody who is pretending to be thinking about those processes. If it enables us to be clearer in our own minds about what those particular processes are then well have learnt something from it.