Paul Feldman's 'Final Chapter' should be renamed. I see it as 'The Last Ditch'; others may not be so kind. It is a turgid attempt to justify his belief in the Diary's authenticity. It fails completely. Before demonstrating why, let's set out the ground rules that every advocate needs to obey.
When arguing the case for a candidate, an author is free to concentrate on presenting his own research and conclusions. It is quite in order for him to deal with other peoples' candidates in a swift fashion, as long as no distortions are involved. But in dealing with his own candidate, he is obliged to present all the known evidence, both favourable and unfavourable. He is not entitled to conceal or suppress any facts that might weaken or even negate his arguments. Paul Feldman's book not only conceals and suppresses, but it also misrepresents views that threaten the health of his case. Thus an analysis, not a review, is called for.
WHAT YOU NOW NEED TO KNOW.
"Where did all the information within the document come from?" asks Feldman (p355). Answer: There is nothing factual in the Diary text that is new. Every incident in it was derived from writings present in popular form years before the Diary surfaced. Indeed, all the Ripper material was present in two books; three if one of the books lacked its dust cover, as you'll see!
When I initially examined its text I drew up two opposing hypotheses; (my standard investigating method.) Here they are:
(1). It could be the work of scholars disguising themselves as mundane thinkers and writers......OR (2). It was the work of a group that was cunning and bright, but without real scholastic insights or research techniques.
I first wrote a piece based on hypothesis (1). This showed how the text could be evolved taking Belloc Lowndes's novel, 'The Lodger', as a prime inspiration.
I then worked on my second proposition. This alone fitted all the criteria. In fact, some of my findings were so obvious that I expected others to catch on fast. But few seemed to have any clue, even though nothing esoteric is involved. So let me take you through the essential popular material, step-by-step.
THE INSPIRATION, AND THE FERTILE SOIL
Before 1992 there were many unrelated events that could jog the imagination and set off the idea of a hoax. Apart from the Hitler and Mussolini fake diaries, we had a specifically Liverpudlian scam in the form of "THE MEMOIRS OF BRIDGET HITLER". These claimed that Adolf Hitler had actually lived in Liverpool for some months in 1912-13. They were first dealt with in 1973 in a series of lengthy articles in the 'Liverpool Daily Post'. Book publication followed in 1979.
These memoirs then inspired the novel "YOUNG ADOLF" by Beryl Bambridge. More than one wily Liverpudlian noted that there was fun and cash to be gained from a gullible reading public.
Just a year earlier the 'Reader's Digest' "GREAT CASES OF SCOTLAND YARD" had featured "DOCTOR CRIPPEN'S DIARY", 'complete with the doctor's own peculiar spelling and punctuation' and a reference to "...this Jack the Ripper thats a maniac who murdered these women in the East End, terrible to think there are such people about, & they say he’s supposed to be a Doctor.."
Coupled with this Crippen Diary was a piece on the Siege of Sydney Street with invented reports by Melville MacNaghten. They were never intended to deceive. They were two, clever imaginative exercises, meant to make history more memorable. But to some readers they could well suggest further exercises.
And then, of course, there was that "GASLIGHT GHOUL" episode in the 'Avengers' series on television. This featured a Club of Ripperologists and a faked dairy relating to the murders!
At this point, note the 'Diary' implies that Maybrick was responsible for leaving the capital 'M' on the Hanbury Street envelope. It was left as a mocking clue, the first of a series of clues using the letter 'M'. An original touch? Not so. This very idea was first put into print in 1978, by Dibdin in his Ripper novel "THE LAST SHERLOCK HOLMES CASE", a book re-issued in paperback in 1989 and 1990.
Let Holmes explain for himself: " 'Incidentally, one of the inmates of the boarding-house Chapman frequented identified the envelope as being the property of the deceased. She had seen her with it earlier that night, but at that time it lacked the mark it bore later, when it was found by Chapman's head.' 'What mark was that?' 'The letter M. A capital M. That would seem to put paid to your ignoble savage, Watson.’ " (Page 40)
Holmes later enlarges on this observation: " '..he is inscribing his initial upon the face of Whitechapel in human blood!.. remember that a letter M was found scrawled upon an envelope.. His first thought, no doubt, was to leave some such clue at the scene of each murder, like an artist signing a canvas.'
Holmes finally concludes that the killer is so obsessed with leaving the letter 'M' as a clue, that he even arranges for the murder sites themselves to form a giant 'M' on the map! But this aim was thwarted by the need to improvise the fourth killing. So was it 'M' for Maybrick? Not on your life, it was 'M' for MORIARTY. Even so, it provided a nice touch of colour much appreciated by the Diary fakers.
Dibdin's fiction is echoed in other parts of the Diary, along with other fictional texts, but his work is obviously not a source of facts. Where then do the Ripper facts come from?
In Feldman's book we have a ridiculous scenario involving a team of conspirators having to read "...every book....newspaper and Home Office file on the Whitechapel murderer." For four pages he rambles on in this vein. He provides an illogical mish-mash and a tragic glimpse into a mind so confused that it is beyond reach.
IN TRUTH, NOT ONE FILE OR NEWSPAPER HAD TO BE CONSULTED; NO DISTANT ARCHIVES NEEDED TO BE VISITED; NO GREAT CASH INVESTMENT WAS INVOLVED. All but three of the facts and fallacies found in the Diary are taken from Peter Underwood's 'Jack the Ripper'. The extra three items, can be found in, and on, Martin Fido's hardback.
(From now on Underwood's book is Und; Feldman's is Feld)
Start with ABBERLINE: Feld p53 says: "Modern writers have tended to play down the role of Inspector Abberline, yet he is the only policeman on the Ripper case named by the author of the diary."
This presented no problem for the fakers. Und p4 informed them that: "Inspector Abberline headed the team of CID officers investigating the Ripper murders." It was that easy.
Next HANBURY ST: The Diary lists Annie Chapman's property as: two rings, two farthings and two pills. Feld p41 says this: "Although never previously published, a police report signed by Inspector Abberline...confirms: 'The deceased was in the habit of wearing two brass rings... the finger bore marks of their having been removed by force.' The diarist later continued:... 'one ring,two rings, bitch,it took me a while before I could wrench them off'."
All this impresses Feldman; but all the fakers had to do was to read Und p9 which lists: "...two brass rings (presumably wrenched from the victims fingers) .. .a couple of farthings.. .two medicinal pills..." So, no unpublished police report was needed!
Now, Feldman has to believe in the two farthings, or accept the Diary as a fake. He admits so himself on p42. But those coins never existed; and that is proven by facts excluded by Feldman. Yet Feld p40, sinks to a low level when he invokes fake testimony in order to keep his illusions afloat. He writes (Feld p40):
"Dr Bagster Phillips arrived and, after examining the body, discovered that Chapman's pocket had been cut open and its contents were lying in a neat pile: two combs, a piece of coarse muslin and two farthings. The neatness of them strongly suggested that they were put there with deliberate intent. Indeed, Dr Bagster Phillips stated at the inquest - according to the Daily Telegraph of 14 September 1888 - that they 'had apparently been placed there in order, that is to say arranged there.'
Note well, that the only direct quote from Phillips, in that passage, is spliced in so cunningly, that it seems to offer confirmation of the existence of the two farthings.
Sorry, but Dr Phillips did not discover any farthings, neither did he refer to them in his statements to the inquest. If he had done so, then Feldman would have gleefully quoted his actual words. No one with truth on his side needs to distort recorded history. We are entitled to ask: Just what are you up to Mr Feldman?
MARY KELLY: The Diary says of Mary Kelly "...no heart no heart." and Feld 62-66 puzzles over this, but the fakers have simp]y picked up the words "He cut out her heart.." from Und p75. Again, it was that easy. And when the Diary says "...I cut off the breasts....Left them on the table with some of the other stuff..", it is merely echoing Und p75: "...he cut off her breasts.." and Und p25: "..on a table by the bed were the little piles of flesh, the breasts....and other parts of her body..." Easy once more!
Of STRIDE the Diary says: " The horse went and shied But I could still smell her sweet scented breath." This event is found on Und 13-14 and includes the line: "...the victim still clutched a small packet of pink cachous, used to sweeten the breath.."
THE RIPPER'S RETREAT: "I have taken a small room in Middlesex Street.." says the Diary. Our fakers drew on Und p29, which refers to Hutchinson' 5 'Ripper' being spotted in Petticoat Lane and Und p142, where the Lane itself is identified as "Middlesex Street market". What could be simpler?
Feld p261, reads significance into the Diary words " I am convinced God placed me here to kill all whores..", and tries to link it with an unpublished letter of October 1888.
But this won't wash; our fakers have taken their inspiration from Und p56 which states: " One doctor, at the time of the murders, wrote: 'the murderer is a homicidal maniac of religious views, who labours under the morbid belief that he has a destiny in the world to fulfil.' " No archives and no deep research needed.
Feld p261 also finds the Diary idea of a triple killing evidential. Nothing of the sort. It is simply an easy, logical progression that anyone, even a schoolboy, could hit on and at the time of double event, this was actually the case. Two hoax letters, one dated Oct 1st, the other Oct 5th, spoke of three in one night, (That of the 5th was never published; that of the 1st appeared in the "Star" on Oct 2nd - it was signed 'THE BUTCHER'.)
Underwood's book lists just five Whitechapel victims; so does the Diary, but the Diary throws in two extra victims in Manchester; one as an overture, the other as the finale. Why any extras? Feld 270-1 gives an incredible answer; a poem by Maybrick told us there were more than five!
The poem he alludes to is " Eight little whores, with no hope of heaven," This verse appears in a number of Ripper books and is found on Und p168. It is anonymous. Its significance is that although it starts off with eight whores, only seven of them get killed. The Diary fakers took note of that and cunningly added in two extras. And cunningly they made the details vague and nebulous enough to allow gullible readers to flesh out the story.
Feldman p271 misreads this poem, but correctly identifies it as mirrored in the Diary text. He writes : "The author of the diary also lays claim to the verse when, on page 42, while practising his 'poetry skills', he wrote what might have been considered the first draft.
Feld p271, then goes on to assert that other words reflect: "...the diarists preoccupation with making his poems rhyme as does, 'It shall come, if Michael can succeed in rhyming verse then I can do better,a great deal better he shall not outdo me'"
Feld p52 had earlier on remarked that "Throughout the diary the author resents the ability of Michael to compose verse'" - Just so, and there you have a perfect example of the fakers betraying themselves. They misrepresent the role of Michael Maybrick.
HIS BROTHER MICHAEL NEVER WROTE VERSE OR LYRICS. Yes, he was a famous, popular and prolific light composer of the day, but the lyrics of all the many songs associated with his name were written by other people. Without exception they were the work of poets and lyricists famous in their own right, like Fred Weatherly, who wrote over 70 of the songs.
Using the name 'Stephen Adams', Michael wrote the music only and this is made plain on the cover of every song sheet ever printed. But the fakers didn't know this. They had read about his melodies such as 'The Holy City', but failed to grasp the fact that his role was limited to the notes.
In their ignorance they invented the idea of this rivalry on James Maybrick's part. This invention allowed them to introduce verse into the diary. They felt the need to do this because they were under the illusion that the Ripper had taunted in verse. Und p169 certainly encouraged this illusion and, by presenting them with “ Eight little whores . . . , gave them the chance to add some little colour to their drab text. At the same time they thought they were actually making their text more believable. The Ripper's musings of 1888 could be shown to be fertilising their pages!
But the poem they chose is a modern fake! It first appeared in Donald McCormick's book of 1959; there is no trace of it before then. It was said to derive from papers written by Dr Thomas Dutton, who died in November 1935. But no one has ever seen these papers and provided accurate transcripts. McCormick claimed that he had transcribed them, but the texts shown in his book describe events that never took place and could never have taken place. And those bogus events are found in the company of other invented episodes unrelated to Dutton. Thus McCormick has forfeited the right to be taken seriously.
But Feldman needs to go on believing in moonshine, so he writes of me " He claimed that the Dutton diaries were ‘sheer fiction’. My research team were to prove him wrong, once more." (Feld p350) Boastful folly once again; easily refuted.
Dr Dutton certainly kept diaries with his musings on crimes and that is acknowledged on page 68 of my 'Bloody Truth'. But they are lost. The diary passages I denounce as fiction are the many 'quotes' that have appeared in print. If he and his 'research team' had bothered to read my books they would have known this. So,if Feldman was wrongly advised, then his 'research team' has a lot to answer for. And I would remind him, that it was one of this brilliant team, who insisted that the diaries still existed; and told me so, with great fervour! By now, they all know that they were the victims of yet another mischievous hoaxer.
Feldman once more falls back on McCormick when he tries to justify his belief in the mythical two farthings. What he conceals from his readers is the fact that McCormick's Hanbury Street episode is pure fiction. Here's a choice sample:
Inspector Chandler's thoughts were on bacon and eggs... 'I must say',said Inspector Chandler...it fair puts me off my breakfast' this mean anything to you?' Richardson looked bewildered and puckered up his eyes. 'Oh, I suppose that came off my boot?.. .I trimmed a bit of leather off my boot.' 'Oh you did, did you? And what did you trim it with, may I ask?' 'My knife. Why, blimey, copper, you ain't suggesting...?'" And so on...
Why does Feldman resort to this noveletish work? Simply because the sober police files contain no mention of those cherished farthings.
KELLY'S WALL: Much is made of the initials said to be marked on this wall. A photograph is said to reveal them. But the man who took the photographs in 1888 did not see them, and he was there. Neither Dr Bond nor Dr Phillips saw them, and they were there. And they were not seen by the police, who were there in numbers. Then on November 12th all the jurymen involved in the inquest filed in to the murder room and inspected the place. Not one of these observers noticed anything resembling writing on the wall, and they saw the wall itself, first-hand.
But over the years myths grew around the murder sites, a ghost here, a ghost there; and around Kelly's room crystallised the myth that Jack had left a clue on the wa]l.
Und 131-2, told the fakers about that myth. A Mrs Little had testified that on the wall: " 'was a bloody imprint of a hand. No matter how many times it was painted over it always showed through. Many people used to visit the place especially to see the ghostly handprint. '
In Underwood there is a photograph of Kelly's corpse in that room yet the fakers see no handprint in sight. But there are dark smudges and lines on the wall and if you are looking for an 'M' you can create one out of the markings. Other people see different things. In fact, three years earlier Simon Wood had spotted initials on the wall; but not the Maybrick ones.
Then in 1991, Dennis Parsons based a Black Magic theory on the images he claimed to find on the Kelly photograph. He discovered a man with a crown; a child; part of a castle, and a man with a large spiked helmet on his head! Try giving this picture to people with open minds and you will come up with many strange reports.
But the fakers were only looking for any clue that could be fitted up as an 'M'; Dibdin's book had acted as a wonderful catalyst.
The last Kelly item to note, is on Feld p63 which states: " The diarist had not made an error here, claiming 'and with the key I did flee' but that did not really surprise me." Neither did it surprise the fakers who simply drew on Und p26 "...it was locked and bolted on the inside; the key was never found.”
Fortuitously there was another chance at creating a clue-like 'M'. In looking for one or two extra bits, our fakers came across two reports in Martin Fido's book, in bold-type they rest side-by-side with each other, on pages 70 and 71.
On p71 was Dr Brown's report which said: "There was on each side of the cheek a cut which peeled up the skin, forming a triangular flap about an inch and a half." On page 75 Fido comments on this, thus: " The neat Vs pointing up to the eyes and the delicate nicks on the eyelids point to a murderer who was precisely and quasi-artistically putting his personal mark on his victim's face..."
Feldman p51, naturally finds the Diary account 'fascinating';it reads: " I cut deep, deep. Her nose annoyed me so I cut it off, had a go at her eyes left my mark..." Feld p51 concludes that: "Once again the diary pointed us in a particular direction. The two inverted V's underneath the eyes could certainly be interpreted as a letter ... The author of the diary was always right - much as the cynics did not want to accept it."
But this Dairy entry is nothing but a crude summary of the Fido material which also includes the words "The tip of the nose was quite detached from the nose by an oblique cut..." p 71.
Fido's page 70 printed the police list of Eddowes' belongings and this provided our fakers with some telling references and Feldman fell for them! He was sucked in by the Diary verses gloating over Eddowes' death. These spoke of " sweet sugar and tea.. tin match box empty cigarette case the whores knife”
These were items found in the police list and Feld p54 creates a little drama around one item: "The fact is that the empty tin matchbox did not appear in any press report at the time." He then goes on to take up a page brooding over this 'mystery' : "These questions went round and round in my head."
There is no mystery, since the Diary is a modern forgery. If the Diary had used the words: " Chamber Pots, Rubber, Lunatics for the use of ", you would have at once recognised the old military inventory style. And "tin matchbox empty" is written in that style because it is nothing but a quote from the police list (1 Tin Match Box, empty) which was not in print until 1987. That entry, like a preceeding one: "1 Piece of red gauze, Silk, various cuts thereon found on neck", well betrays the hand of a policeman creating an inventory. The fakers seized on the box and other items, simply in order to scribe lines of doggerel.
But Feldman is bent on manufacturing mysteries and finds yet another involving the cigarette case. He writes (p56) : "Another significant item on the published list was 'the red leather cigarette case'. It seems hardly likely that a woman in penury who, that very morning, pawned her boyfriend's boots, would own a leather cigarette case with metal fittings."
How tiresome. Back in May 1993 Feldman was peddling the idea of this case being a clue left by Maybrick. "How could a poor whore own such a thing?" At the time it was gently explained to him that in 1888 such cases, with nickel fittings, were a very cheap market line. They were of little value to start with, but when the leather grew scuffed and stained with use, they would hardly be worth a farthing.... But old illusions die hard!
Incredibly enough, one more prosaic reference is invested with significance. Feid 57 says: "Once again, this extraordinary diary had made us think. The diarist had made no attempt to conform with the latest theories. He even made references to 'the whores knife'. The diarist knew Stride was a Ripper victim. Would a forger have flown in the face of modern thinking, putting his work at risk, by boldly accepting Stride as a Ripper victim ? I think not."
One more glimpse into confusion. The "whores knife" of the Diary has nothing to do with Stride; it refers to Eddowes' "White Handled Table Knife" as listed by the police. Their list runs in this order: Knife; cigarette case; matchbox. The fakers chose those items, along with the 'sugar and tea', for no other reason than to create their crude rhymes. Furthermore, since Underwood accepts Stride as a Ripper victim, the fakers never had to worry about 'modern thinking'. It's as simple as that.
We leave Fido's book with the one observation that on the back of its dustcover is the black-and-white Punch cartoon of September 22, 1888. This famous woodblock, entitled 'BLIND-MAN'S BUFF',is referred to in the Diary. The fakers were delighted to find the caption "TURN ROUND THREE TIMES AND CATCH WHOM YOU MAY!" The last word was one they took fun in playing around with: "I could not stop laughing when I read Punch there for all to see was the first three letters of my surname. They are blind as they say."
But how did James Maybrick come into the picture? Here Underwood provides many of the answers. His book not only names three possible Rippers linked with Liverpool, but it also names the most important one as JAMES THE RIPPER! And it speaks of fake Ripper diaries and of a tie between Whitechapel, Liverpool and Whitechapel, London. Does this begin to sound rather familiar?
The minor Liverpool Rippers are named as Gladstone, a man fascinated by prostitutes, who owned Harwarden Castle near Liverpool and had a family business in Liverpool itself.
The second man was Frederick Deeming who murdered his first wife and four children in Rainhill, Liverpool. Deeming was even said to have confessed to being the Ripper. And for years his plaster death mask was on view at the Black Museum. Visitors were often shown it as "The mask of the Ripper".
But the most potent Ripper for the hoaxers, was James Kelly. He was first named as James the Ripper by John Morrison in 1986. In 1987 Underwood devoted eleven pages to Morrison's ideas. We are told that Kelly came from Liverpool, murdered his wife in Liverpool, escaped from Broadmoor-Hospital in January 1888 and ended his Whitechapel murders after killing his mistress Mary Kelly.
Morrison claimed to have seen a secret diary setting out all the damning evidence against 'Ripper Kelly'. This diary was alleged to have been kept by Marie Beiloc Lowndes, who wrote the famous Ripper novel "THE LODGER." But no one else has ever seen this diary.
Und 103-4 states that: "Several of the alleged Ripper's letters were posted in Liverpool including a letter received on 29th September..." Morrison's theory about this letter is outlined in Und 104. In essence it holds that the Ripper posted the letter at Liverpool’s Whitechapel General Post Office in an attempt to link the two Whitechapels together; this inspired the Diary lines: “I said I am clever, very clever. Whitechapel Liverpool, Whitechapel London ha ha. No one could possibly place it together And indeed there is no reason for anyone to do so."
Underwood, himself, adds to the idea of a fake diary by creating a spoof Ripper entry for 'Who's Who'. In it he names the Ripper's writings, these include two autobiographical pieces and an 1888 uncompleted diary.
Then Und 149 features a piece by James Tully which includes the following cry from the heart: "I live in hope that as the remaining slums of Whitechapel are finally cleared, some hidden documentary evidence of the identity of Jack the Ripper will be found wedged behind a rafter. Or it may well be that, deposited with a solicitor or at a bank somewhere, there is a dusty tin box marked 'Not to be opened for one hundred years' and which contains a complete and evidential confession. After all, if only one of the well-known letters purporting to come from Jack is genuine, there is indication of the egotism that would need to leave a confession."
For the fakers this confirmed that the time was ripe. People were simply crying out for a dramatic solution; what could be more dramatic than a written confession? And what more dramatic than a confession from a local man whose death once made national news? And since it had made news, all the useful material was easy to find. So the man chosen to be fitted up as the real James the Ripper was not James Kelly, but James Maybrick: the dead man at the centre of the most sensational murder case of 1889. A case that followed hot on the heels of the Ripper killings.
The Maybrick case has been churned over time after time, in books and magazines, but the most popular and easy to read book on the affair was Nigel Morland's 'THIS FRIENDLESS LADY'. List all the significant names and events associated with Maybrick in the Diary, and you'll find them there, in Morland's book. No archives need to be consulted; no densely-written treatises need to be puzzled over. The basics are all there, in easy-to-digest, simple, form! And other popular works provided a few snippets.
Morland links the Ripper murders with Liverpool and the Maybricks on page 23, when he writes: "Christmas, 1888, held no undue emotions or unusual events. The casual conversation between grown-ups, while the children played, went no deeper than to touch in passing on the terrors afflicting London and much of the country with the terrifying panic of the Whitechapel murders (as "Jack the Ripper's” crimes were known) . The police were arresting suspects on the slightest provocation and while the 'last' victim Mary Kelly, had died horribly the month before, it was generally believed that this sadistic sexual maniac would choose Christmas Day for some particularly revolting slaughter - doors and windows in many Liverpool houses were furtively locked and bolted."
Given Morland's lead, it is hardly suprising to find that the fakers chose Christmas-time as the setting for their last, and quite fictitious seventh murder, in Manchester! This is the last murder dealt with by Mrs Harrison in her book. A murder endorsed by Feldman for years. But in his book Feldman now drops this interpretation, without any explanation. Suddenly, there are only six 'Maybrick' killings.
Were the seven killings found incovenient? Or does his change result from a simple mathematical error? He now counts the dead whores in the poem as six; yet the text contradicts him. It says:
"Seven little whores begging for a shilling,/One stays in Henage Court, then there's a killing.." That killing leaves: "Six little whores glad to be alive".. but not for long, they all meet their ends at the hands of Jack. Six and one makes seven for most people, as it did for the hoaxers.
The first page of the Diary is a determined exercise in name-dropping; a sure hallmark of pre-planned fiction. There we are introduced to The Poste House and Battlecrease and there we meet Michael, Thomas and Edwin Maybrick; together with daughter Gladys, Dr Hopper, and clerk Smith. It reads like a cast list and that, of course, is what it is. Except for the Poste House (well known to many Liverpudlians) all these Diary names are found in Morland's work, along with the other Diary names: Bunny, Bobo, Lowry, Davidson, Dr Fuller and St James.
"I am convinced a dark shadow lays over the house,it is evil...I may return to Battlecrease. .." says the Diary, echoing Morland's chapter-heading, 'Growing Darkness' and his sentence: "The invisible cloud hanging over Battlecrease House had no duplicate in reality..." From then on, the Diary weaves in its sparse Maybrick material with its elementary Ripper tatters.
But Feldman is so besotted by his beliefs, that he says this of Maybrick: " Any piece of paper could have proved him to have been in a different place from London at the time of the murders. Our 'nest of forgers', however, would need to investigate all those documents before they would know whether such a piece of paper existed... Moreover, if the idea had been dreamt up, how confident would the 'nest' be that they would not find such a document? Would you take the gamble? I would rather play the lottery -there's probably a better chance of winning!" (p291)
Once more the words of someone quite out of touch with reality. Only FOUR DAYS of killing are involved and those are at weekends! While the odds against winning the lottery are almost fourteen mi]lion to one. (Exact odds are 13,983,816 to one)... Need I say more?
No detailed analysis of the Diary text is neccessary, but we need to focus on a few points that have been misrepresented. We are told (Feld p95) that: "...Roger Wilkes, a BBC producer, had correctly pointed out that the Poste House (mentioned in the diary) was not in Cumberland Street in 1888, as Shirley Harrison said it was."
Feldman dates Wilkes' statement to 1994; what he conceals is that Roger Wilkes had warned the Diary camp about this absurdity as long ago as 1992, before Mrs Harrison's book was even written. This was never mentioned in her book.
Since then, frantic, behind-the-scene attempts have been made to get around this devastating problem. In October 1995, Feldman went on air and positively gloated, when he announced that he now knew where the Poste House was. But did he? Of course not.. It was wishful thinking once more; another wild, Daliesque dream.
His book shows the collapse of this dream, for Feld p95 says it "...could have been anywhere in Liverpool or London or anywhere else..." And in an earlier passage he says this: "...the Poste House could well be in London. The letter sent to Forbes Winslow and reproduced.. mentions a Poste Restante at the Charing Cross Hotel. It may be worth recalling that the police were looking for a man who left a bag at this hotel..." A footnote to this reads: "Dr Forbes Winslow transcribes this as Poste Restante, but close examination shows that it could be 'Poste House'”
Here you have two quite unacceptable attempts to rig evidence. There is no doubt whatsoever that the words in this letter read 'Poste Restante' , there is an example of the word 'house' in that very letter that allows us to make a direct comparison. And the text, he shows, has been altered. The word 'Hotel' does not exist in the original letter, which reads: "Write to the Poste Restante Charing x. address to..." By adding the word 'Hotel' Feldman is able to bring in the synthetic mystery of 'the man with the bag' and confuse the issue with talk of hotels and restaurants.
The Poste Restante of that letter was simply a counter service offered by the Charing Cross Post Office at the end of West Strand. But the Poste House of the Diary is the hostelry in Liverpool. It was put in the Diary text, simply because the fakers lived in Liverpool, and knew that the Inn was near the old Exchange. They were taken in by 'ye olde' name, imagining it to be something antique. It is, in fact, a twentieth-century re-naming.
There is a savage irony behind Feldman's use of that particular letter to Dr Winslow. It was not, as Feld p86, states, sent "...at the time of the Whitechapel murders..." It was sent in October 1889, almost a year after the last killing. It is not just its text that betrays it as an 1889 product, it is an observable fact that the date has been altered. This crude alteration has been made with a thicker nib, with part of the original date easily seen in the top loop of the first 8. The only person in a position and with the motive to forge this date was Forbes Winslow himself. He too, needed to make his dreams come true!
Dr Winslow was, in fact, the first Ripper hunter to become corrupted by the excitement of the chase. And now that very letter is being further distorted in order to bolster up yet another hoax. It only remains to add that it was my discovery of the Winslow hoax that made me decide to write my first book on the Ripper.
As we move on through the book, it becomes plain that the need to give the Diary credence is so pressing that every trivial reference is artificially supercharged with meaning. A whole page is taken up when Feldman mulls and gloats over an imaginary provenance for one Diary word!
Feld p295 says: " I had already had a little chuckle to myself that many authors who had declared themselves 'crime historians' were nothing of the sort. Either that, or they had to accept that everything that had been written in the diary about Maybrick and the family was correct. If not why had they not picked up on it."
And what is 'it'? Believe it or not,it is the word "strengthens". The Diary had said: "'My medicine will give me strength." Another document from the 1890's had claimed that Maybrick once said, to John Fleming: "I take this arsenic once in a while because I find it strengthens me ". Feld 294 then says:".. .the diarist had used the precise word (strengthens) that had been used to John Fleming..."
Anyone who speaks of precision needs to be ultra vigilant. And the word 'strength' is not a precise match with 'strengthens', but we can allow Feldman this one lapse. What we cannot forgive is the brash preening of a man who ignores elementary facts.
Doesn't he know, that for two centuries, tonics of all sorts have always been promoted with the claim that they strengthen. Doesn't he know, that Bovril 'strengthens',that tonic wines 'strengthen', that Beecham's Pills 'strengthen the whole muscular system', and so on. There is the acrid taint of megalomania in the air when we encounter such nonsense dressed up as 'evidence’.
It is just as nonsensical for Feld p294 to imagine that the Diary "...use of the word 'medicine' demonstrated a good knowledge of Victorian references to drugs." This is beyond belief! Even more unbelievable is Feldman's claim that this is a view held by, and derived from, Dr David Forshaw of Broadmoor Hospital
I spoke to Dr Forshaw on 29 September 1997 and he wishes it to be made plain that this is not his standpoint. He is being misrepresented. The term 'medicine' is a generic one, used today, as it was in the past, to cover the vast majority of substances used in treating ailments.
Equally absurd is the idea that the Diary shows real inside knowledge, when on its first page, it says: "My dearest Gladys is unwell yet again, she worries me so." But Morland's book (p16) had already named whooping cough as one of the illnesses to hit the children, and that was all the fakers needed.
Anyone with any experience of whooping cough would know of its dangers and appreciate the ghastly effect it can have on any child. It can last for anything up to three or more months. Its after-effects can dominate for a year or so; the lungs and heart can be damaged and emphysema can result. So the idea that a young girl would be ill often, is a simple deduction from the basic facts given by Morland. No skill, no expensive research, no deep delving, was called for, and the Diarists steered clear of tying themselves to dates. Since Morland gave no dates,why should they?
Just as fallacious is the idea that a solitary reference by a servant to "Sir James" is proof that "He liked to be called Sir James" (as Feldman has claimed) or that "...Maybrick was referred to in his own home as Sir James."(Feld p97). I reminded him back in 1993 that pompous and solemn men have been given the mocking accolades 'Your Highness' , ‘My Lord' and 'Sir' for centuries. Indeed, one of my relatives was often called 'Sir Thomas' when he grew too serious, but not to his face; one of his neighbours was dubbed 'Lord Hill'. (Most of us can recount similar happenings.) Now the one thing that is certain about Maybrick is that : "He was usually a bore. He was almost always pompous." (Ryan p32). But there is not the slightest evidence that he ever knew that Alice Yapp had once 'knighted' him. On her part,it was no more than a one-off proletarian put-down, triggered by exasperation.
But Feldman is too intent on being right to listen to such cautions. He needs to find anything that seems to back up the Diary, thus this trivial event is depicted as linked with the use in the Diary of 'Sir Jim'; thirty-three times we are told. So what? It is a pre-planned story. Consider these elements:
The fakers knew that one of Maybrick's club-mates had already been knighted. If James Poole could kneel for the Queen and arise Sir James, why not picture the same for James M.? Why not drag in Queen Victoria and a knighting ceremony? And the first mention of the title shows that it is nothing but contrived word-play on behalf of the fakers: "I deserve at least an honour/ so all for a whim,/ I can now rise Sir Jim " A later entry reads: "Arise Sir Jack she will say / and now you can go / as you may” Word-games, word-games, all the time. But evidence? Never.
Another trivial word is singled out for attention on Feid p233, where Judge Richard Hamilton is introduced. " He made a few interesting points", says Feldman and lists four that are are embarrassing to read.
I do hope the Judge is well-retired, since his last judgement is reported thus: " And the diarist's comment, 'Encountered an old friend on the Exchange Floor' , 'displayed knowledge', according to Hamilton. The word 'Exchange' in reference to the Cotton Exchange was correct usage, but not something easily known by any modern-day forger."
Has the Judge been correctly reported ? Has he forgotten that 'Cotton Exchange Buildings' still exists; that many thousands of Liverpudlians know the name? Is he so incautious that he would rush to solemn judgment without reading the popular accounts?
The term 'Exchange' was no mystery to our modern-day forgers. It is mentioned on page 17 in Morland's book. In Bernard Ryan's popular paperback, the Liverpool Cotton Exchange appears on page 26. Books by Hartman and Christie also refer to the Exchange. So how misguided can you get? Has Feldman ever read the basic texts? If so, how does he account for this chicanery?
One point made by Feldman deserves close attention, he says: "James Maybrick...knew the area of Whitechapel well." If true this is a valid point, but its very validity shows the Diary to be a hoax. The books the fakers read would have given them a vague knowledge of some sort of east London connection, but they knew nothing of any specific Whitechapel connection. Their very text shows this:
I have taken a room in Middlesex Street ... it is indeed an ideal location. I have walked the streets and have become more than familar with them."
This is nothing more than an extension of the references in Underwood (already shown) plus a look at the map displayed by Underwood. There is not a hint of prior knowledge. Yet someone already familiar with the district would have written something along these lines: " Trod the streets I remember so well. How it all comes back to me. Just a day or so to refresh my memory and my quest is on."
Feldman has a second stab at establishing a Whitechapel dimension when he cites a letter from commission agent Gustave Witt. Its key sentence says of Maybrick : "...he was my partner in L'pool up to 1875 & continued to do my London firm's business up to the time of his death..."
This is then transmuted by Feldman into the claim that: "James Maybrick had.. .worked just a short distance from the scene of the crimes at the time that they happened. No self-repecting forger could even contemplate that sort of luck” (Feld p265).
No luck was involved. If the Witt letter is read with care it can be seen to say no more than this: Maybrick continued to transact the business of Witt's London firm, until the time of his death. This does not mean that he worked in London: it means that he handled all deals that involved transactions in Liverpool. Since Paul Feldman is primarily a businessman he should know that such things are commonplace. Indeed, years ago, I myself transacted the London business of organisations in Vienna and New Jersey, without visiting them once.
But reason escapes once more, and we have Feld p264 saying that Witt's London office: "...was a mere 450 yards from the Minories. This was where James Maybrick 'worked'. The diary - remarkably - stated: 'Indeed do I not frequently visit the Capitol and indeed do I not have legitimate reason for doing so,'
Yes, he did visit London frequently and the fakers knew this, but in their eyes the 'legitimate reason' was to visit his brother, Michael. And the Diary makes that clear beyond doubt: " I will visit Michael for a few weeks..." and later on: " I will visit Michael this coming June." and, later still,is yet another visit to Michael. There is no mention of work - EVER.
Mabrick's London jaunts were well signposted in the books they read. Ryan's " The poisoned Life of Mrs Maybrick " even told them: "It was the railway age.. Men like Maybrick thought nothing of stepping aboard the London, Midland and Scottish to go up to London for the day. Maybrick in particular thought nothing of staying overnight. Frequently he stayed two or three days at a time." (p26)
The Witt link fosters Feldman's attempt to high-jack the Liverpool letter that I have already mentioned. That letter includes the words "BEWARE I shall be at work.. in 'Minories'..
Now the Minories are on the eastern edge of the City of London and since Witt's office was in Cullum Street, 450 yards away, Feld (263-4) , tries to demonstrate that the letter shows a link with Maybrick. And how does he do it? By insisting that this undated letter was sent in 1888. Yet there is not the slightest possibility of this being right.
This letter was never known in 1888; it was first displayed in Hall Richardson's book of 1927. It was shown merely as an example of the sort of letter that bedevilled the police and the press; it was nothing but a souvenir letter kept by that journalist, probably one of the number sent to the 'Daily Telegraph', during one of the pseudo-Ripper scares of 1889.
Indeed on July 16th 1889 Richardson wrote this in the Daily Telegraph ": Letters have been received by the police threatening fresh murders and similar communications have been addressed to the offices of the Daily Telegraph during the past few weeks... not much importance has been attached to these productions."
(Readers should be cautioned that this letter appears in a number of books with the year 1888 added.)
There are a some other bits and pieces in the Diary that Feldman marvels over, but these are hardly worth dealing with in detail. It is enough to say that they can all be shown to be derived from known facts, or are simple deductions from real-life situations. As such, they are truly unimportant.
So much for the sources. Now we need to look at the other spurious material used to justify Feldman's case. Let me start with the references to myself. Every such reference (save one) is inaccurate or invented and this can be demonstrated. So if he misrepresents me, how many other people are misrepresented ?
Let's leave that question hanging in the air for a while and look at these inventions. Feldman has decided that he does not want to be confused by facts, he opts instead, for a phantasmagoria that allows him to drag in the Duke of Clarence, Sir William Gull, M.J.Druitt and J.K.Stephens!
He tries to tie in Gull through a tenuous link between surgeon Sir James Paget and Florence Maybrick's aunt. He then, in all seriousness, tells us (p340) " Frank Spiering.. claimed to have seen 'a copy of Dr Willam Gull's notes, bound in an ancient portfolio, kept in, of all places, the New York Academy of Medicine'...Melvin Harris claimed that Spiering 'invented' this. In Nigel Morland's private collection was an unpublished manuscript by Mr Spiering. Contained within it were the details of Gull's notes. Frank Spiering wrote that he found a single index card, numbered Sl15 and headed 'Acland, Theodore Dyke'. On it was: "See Gull, Sir William Withey A collection of the public writings of.: .Edited by.. Acland.. London, 1894..." The New York Academy of Medicine Library confirmed to us that the above reference was legitimate, but that Gull's notebook was now 'missing'. Frank Spiering had not perpetrated a hoax after all."
This is wangling with a vengance. The index card refers to an unexeptional book found in a number of libraries; it has no bearing on the murders whatsoever. If Feldman had read my 'JACK THE RIPPER, THE BLOODY TRUTH' of 1987, he would have known that Spiering has never been able to produce a photocopy of a single page of the notebook he claimed to have found "bound in an ancient portfolio". And Academy Librarian, Brett Kirkpatrick, wrote to me on 20/11/86 confirming that "...the Library does not contain a portfolio with notes of Sir Wiliam Gull referring to the Whitechapel murderer.. .None of the entries in our catalog for works by or about Sir William Gull contains the material referred to by Mr Spiering." I published that letter in 1987.
A hoax it was and a hoax it still is; but it is strange that Feldman, who wants to believe in Spiering, conceals something essential from his readers. He fails to tell them that Spiering said: “ the Gull papers contained the confession of Victoria's grandson, HRH Prince Albert Victor Christian Edward, the Duke of Clarence and Avondale, whom the Royal Physician was treating for syphilis. They detail the Prince's account of the sordid murders he committed in Whitechapel and his motivation for these murders.”
Why has Feldman suppressed this vital statement? Why,if he believes in Spiering,is he even bothering with Maybrick? Spiering states that it was Prince Eddy who slaughtered the girls; surely this Royal 'confession', with its impeccable provenance, overrules the sordid scribbles from Liverpool?
There is a great deal more of this dodgy material in his pages; but how do we account for the totally asinine nonsense found on Feld 246-8? It involves the date of the first use of the name 'Jack the Ripper' It is known to have been first seen on a letter dated 25 September, though not posted until the 27th. The date of the second missive to use the name (a postcard this time) was 1st October. This is not disputed by any competent historian, but it is disputed by Feldman! And what is more he tries to pull me in as a one-time supporter of his idiotic proposition. It is idiotic because it relies on a claim that can be demolished by just one visit to London's Colindale newspaper archives.
Feldman claims that: "In the summer of 1993 Harris told me that the first time the name was used was on a postcard sent soon after the murder of Annie Chapman. He was correct. He told me I would find confirmation in a book by a former policeman, Edwin T. Woodhall, who described the communication. He wrote: ' ...one particular postcard, written in red ink and received by some press head office.. soon after September the ninth... these crimes became known as the work of one named "Jack the Ripper"
I'm not an alien maniac Nor yet a foreign tripper I'm just your jolly, lively friend, Yours truly - Jack the Ripper
P.S. Look out next time. I'm doing the job more perfect.'
"For some reason known only to himself, Melvin Harris, despite having told me correctly that it was on the postcard published by Woodhall that the name Jack the Ripper was used for the first time, contradicted himself in his latest book by writing:
'An enterprising journalist had decided that the killer needed a memorable name, so he hit on Jack the Ripper and used it first in a letter then on a postcard. He sent off his hoaxing letter on 27 September.' " (Feld 246-7)
This is unforgivable nonsense. I warned Feldman that the Woodhall claim was bogus; that Woodhall himself was a rogue who altered thc text of documents to suit himself; that he cared little for the truth and was nothing more than a tall-story merchant. That I would endorse anything written by that man is not only incredible but a blatant lie.
Had Feldman read my first Ripper book he would have discovered that I was the first writer to pay close attention to Woodhall's work and I rightly denounced him for his chicanery. And in an earlier book of mine I said: "The wily Woodhall gave false authority to a string of dubious yarns."
I have been consistent all along, all three of my books give the authentic dates of the first two Ripper missives. Feldman's disregard of this hard evidence is despicable. If he wants to brand himself as incompetent, that's up to him, but I have no intention of allowing him to saddle me with his own worthless beliefs.
Let me make this plain. Anyone who believed in Woodhall's postcard yarn could rightly be judged as a wholly incompetent investigator and a worthless historian. Because this postcard never existed! Let me show you why.
Let me show you the key words that Feldman has cunningly left out of his quotes. You'll see at once that Woodhall is claiming that this postcard was noted and quoted in the press of the day, yet he doesn't name a single paper who featured it. Woodhall says:
"...these crimes came to be known as the work of one named 'Jack the Ripper' , due once more to the influence of the Press in giving this sinister title extensive publicity.. .one particular postcard, written in red ink.. was promptly seized on and at once widely requoted by other sensational sections of the Press...
You now have the text that gives the lie to Feldman's claims. If he really believed in the existence of this postcard, why does he suppress the words which claim that this postcard was widely requoted by the press of the time.
Where are the press cuttings of the time that quote this poem? There are none and Feldman must know that, otherwise he would quote them with glee. What he does know is that this poem can only be found in print in Woodhall's cheap and nasty pamphlet of 1937.
But why does Feldman need to twist history in this fashion? It makes nonsense of his statement "... you cannot make history work for you." (p355) He twists and twists. He does it in order to try to fit the real-life events of 1888 into the strait-jacket of the Diary fiction.
In this case, he is trying to find a real-life parallel to match the Diary lines "Michael would be proud of my funny little rhyme" And he is quite prepared to rewrite history to make his wishes come true. Feld p248, shows this deplorable scheme at work:
“In 108 years of Ripper books, not one author had ever commented on the fact that there were two versions of this poem, let alone explain why. Only the diary told us. Only the diary gave the answer. Not only were two versions of the rhyme sent, but the entries in the diary were precisely where the obscure historical evidence indicated that they should be."
This obsessive need to to be right at all costs has a corrupting influence on the intellect. Remember Dr Winslow; Frank Spiering; Cyril Morton; Stephen Knight; Joseph Sickert? And there are others.
In pursuing the 'Lusk letter' Feldman tells us: " In case the answer had been in the media all the time we decided to do a complete sweep of all the contemporary newspapers." (p256) So Mr Feldman why didn't you apply the same standards to this poem? Why did you avoid a search? This entitles us to say:
MR FELDMAN YOUR CONDUCT IS UNACCEPTABLE. THE POSTCARD POEM IS BOGUS. YOU KNOW WHERE TO FIND THE NEWSPAPER ARCHIVES. SO TAKE YOUR PEOPLE WITH YOU AND MAKE ANOTHER COMPLETE SWEEP. TRY TO FIND ANY NEWSPAPER IN 1888 THAT CARRIES THIS VERSE. YOU ASK PEOPLE TO BELIEVE IN WOODHALL, VERY WELL, WOODHALL HAS TOLD YOU WHERE TO LOOK. FOLLOW HIS LEAD. THEN TELL US IF HE IS RIGHT. AND TELL US SOON.
Not everything in Feldman's book is fiddled; many odd or false conclusions result from a lack of logic or imperfect research. His puzzling over the empty tin box, for example, leads him to jump at a link between that box and the fact that Dr William Sedgwick Saunders had examined Eddowes' stomach for drugs, he asks: "Did that box show traces of drugs?" (p55)
Why should it? Dr Saunder's examination was prompted by an idea put forward by Coroner Dr Roderick MacDonald's assistant. He noted that the victims had remained silent and theorised that the killer might have induced his victims to swig rum or brandy drugged with an opiate, in order to keep them quiet.
But Feldman works hard on any drugs angle because he needs to paint Maybrick as a "..self confessed junkie.."(p55) If true,this could be used to try to explain away a number of anomalies, the handwriting in particular. This is misrepresentation, once more.
Maybrick was no more than a dyspeptic hypochondriac, plagued with guts-ache and piles. Yes, like many other people, he took 'tonics' containing arsenic and he took them often, but arsenic is not a personality-changing substance in the same class as Heroin, Opium, Cocaine and LSD.
His use of arsenic might lead to a feeling of well-being or elation. It might, eventually, result in chronic arsenic poisoning, but nothing else. It was not a 'Jekyll and Hyde' potion. He did not become 'two people', as Feldman pretends.
Other contemporary 'evidence' used by Feldman is there only because of this repeated pattern of faulty research. This is why he takes up four pages to puzzle over the mystery of Stuart Cumberland's involvement with a diary said to have been written by Florence Maybrick and hawked around in London, in 1889.
This diary, in three volumes, was first heard of in September 1889 and was brought to the attention of this chap Cumberland. Feld p306 asks:" Who was Stuart Cumberland? Keith Skinner wasted no time. Stuart Cumberland was an editor." Feldman found this very strange since Cumberland had once written: " Personally, I take very little interest in the [Maybrick] case..." Feld p307, then asks "...so what would hold his interest?" We may well ask; 'what indeed'? But Feldman has an answer ready; or so it seems.
He tells us on p308, that Cumberland had already written two articles on Jack the Ripper and one piece 'MAYBRICKISM', which included the following letter from Liverpool:-
You call yourself a thought-reader and claim to know all about that bloodthirsty scoundrel 'Jack the Ripper'; but up to the present I have seen no sign from you respecting the innocent woman who lies in agonised suspense in Walton gaol...You can have visions about the Whitechapel murderer, but poor Mrs Maybrick in your idea is apparently unworthy of a dream. It ought all to be clear to you but perhaps you don't want it to be so..."
Of this letter Feldman makes this wild comment: " A letter from Liverpool connecting Florence Maybrick with Jack the Ripper? Surely this means that someone at the time knew the truth about James? That person was obviously very frustrated that no one else could work it out - 'It ought to be clear to you...’
Intemperate as ever, Feldman blusters away : "...this indicates that diaries existed in 1889 emanating from the Maybrick household and connecting the Maybrick's with the Ripper. Given that Jack the Ripper was Cumberland's great obsession, the only reason for 'Mr Miller' to have been recommended to show the diaries to Cumberiand is if they concerned the Ripper" (p 309)
Consider the implications of those childish claims. This compassionate man from Liverpool knows of a Maybrick/Ripper connection. He tries to animate Cumberland's interest; he fails. Then he abdicates and does nothing. No visits to newspapers. No contact with MacDougall and the repeal agitation committee. He just slinks off and stays silent. And 'Mr Miller' sharing similar knowledge, stays silent as well. Does this ring true? Never!
These conjectures are worthless. The real reasons for the letter and Cumberland's very involvement are quite different. They have nothing to do with "..the truth about James.", but everything to do with the truth about Stuart.
You see, Cumberland was much more than an editor. His real name was Charles Garner and under that name he had worked with the great showman W.Irving Bishop, 'The World's Most Eminent Mind-Reader' . From Bishop he learned the art of 'contact mind-reading', a technique that allows the expert to find hidden objects, and solve all manner of baffling problems. And he then perfected one of Bishop's acts which linked magic and crime; this was the celebrated 'Murder Game' which was acted out in theatres and large private houses.
In his absence an imaginary murder would be staged. On his return to the scene of the 'crime' he would unfailingly find the victim, the killer, and the hidden murder weapon, even when blindfolded.
These amazing feats, coupled with his other uncanny acts, led many people to imagine that he was clairvoyant and utilised psychic powers (they later believed the same about Houdini). This begot the idea that he could act as a 'psychic detective'. And that is why the correspondent from Liverpool waxed indignant. That irate Liverpudlian was dismayed because Cumberland would not take time to use his special 'psychic methods' to discover the truth about the Maybrick murder case. Nothing else was in his mind.
Cumberland's later developing interest in the alleged 'Florence Maybrick' diary was little more than the curiosity that any journalist would develop, especially one whose incredible skills might well have told him if the seller of the diary was truthful or not. For Cumberland's skills made him into a formidable flesh-and-blood lie-detector. And that's all there is to it. NO MYSTERY AND NO COVER-UP INVOLVED.
Equally there is no mystery in the fact that James Maybrick used the subscription " Yours Truly" at the end of some of his letters. Feldman wants to pretend that this has something to do with the Ripper letters that also use "Yours truly".
Feld p 275 actually states: "This was not a particularly common way to sign letters" Wrong once more. Any book of etiquette of the period would have informed him that this form of subscription was commonplace at the time. And there is, in fact, an example shown in Feldman's own book (p260) where an 1888 letter ends: "Yours truly T.J. Bulling
But why is Feldman so anxious to link the Ripper letters with Maybrick? The handwriting is obviously not the same, and no amount of talk about drugs or 'two persons' will explain that away. The answer lies in an unworthy wangle that unfolds between pages 271 to 277 of his book.
Feldman is the only writer who has the temerity to try to use as evidence a more than dubious letter dated 17th Sept 1888. Though said to have been found in the Public Records Office at Kew, no serious researcher accepts it as authentic. ( At the time of writing it is being investigated by the PRO.) It has all the hallmarks of a planted hoax,since it uses the sobriquet 'Jack the Ripper' and thus pre-dates the first established use of that name on 25th September,1888.
Just why is he tempted to do this? Simply because the letter uses the words "So now they say I am a Yid" and Feldman wants to match that with the Diary words: "If they are to insist that I am a Jew then a Jew I shall be." (Feld p272). And he insists that those words precede the reference to 'Punch', therefore: " These two references tie in with historical information at precisely the time they should do."
Wishful thinking! Those Diary words are clearly manufactured from the raw material provided by Underwood. His pgs 44-6, deal with Odell's theory that the killer was a Jewish slaughterman, then Und p76 quotes: " I'm not a butcher / I'm not a Yid..."
This doesn't deter Feldman. His fantasies must match the Diary, even if he uses a letter that no one else would touch with a flagpole.
In the same spirit of fantasy he then lights on a "Dear Boss" letter dated 8 October 1888, and claims that it matches Maybrick's writing as found on a letter written on R.M.S. 'Baltic' headed-notepaper.
This letter of the 8th October is headed 'Galashiels' and the resemblance to the Maybrick letter is wholly superficial. Both feature a right-sloping writing, based on the standard school writing guides, but there the resemblance ends. If the letters are enlarged, then the many differences are obvious. What is more this letter doesn't even claim to be from Jack. It poses as a warning from a second killer, that's why it is signed 'The Ripper' and its accurate text (not Feldman's) reads in part : " I have to thank you and my Brother in trade, Jack the Ripper...
Added to that is a promise to knife five victims in Scotland. An obvious hoax, this. Only someone lacking discrimination would even think of trying to use it.
But no lack of discrimination governs Feldman's treatment of the important Maybrick Will. Here,deliberate concealment is involved.
Feldman has had advanced notice of all the documents in this case. (THEY CAN BE VIEWED ON THE INTERNET) Their vital importance their full significance, have been made more than plain to him. Yet he chooses to exclude the key documents. And his readers will be unaware of this. Everything is still angled at denigrating this Will. Its very existence is galling for the Diary camp.
CONCEALED from his readers are samples of Maybrick's handwriting as shown on this Will of 1889. Yet that handwriting matches the Maybrick sample shown on a plate prior to page 307 in Feldman's book. That undisputed sample dates from 1881. Its writing has been examined by Sue Iremonger and others ; their verdict is unanimous: the same man wrote both documents. The Will is Maybrick's beyond doubt.
CONCEALED is the complete text of the Maybrick Will. This Will was written on tough, light blue, legal paper. One sheet, measuring 11 inches by 17 inches, was folded once to create two double-sided pages. Thus, since everything of importance is on one document, there can be no excuse for overlooking any of the wording. Yet the text shown on Feld 365-6, only covers the writing on two of these pages. The crucial back page is the one concealed. This is no accident. The missing page proves that the Will was passed at Liverpool on 29th July 1889 without challenge. It is the one and only original Will. This I have pointed out many times. No reader will know anything of this from Feldman.
CONCEALED is the text and indeed, the very existence, of the Certified Copy of that Will. This copy faithfully records every detail shown on the handwritten original, including all oddities of punctuation and capitalisation and ampersands. It is extra proof that this Will is the very document endorsed on 29th July.
CONCEALED is the text of the newspaper reports that ran on 30th July 1889. The details of this Will had been read out to waiting reporters. So their copies lack the visual accuracy of the Certified Copy, but they independently confirm the text of the Will, now at Somerset House. They also provide full proof that the MacDougall version of the Will is nothing but a grossly faulty version of these newpaper reports. But no reader is given the opportunity to make the comparison.
CONCEALED is the fact that MacDougall is so faulty that each time he quotes from his own mangled version of the Will he gives a different rendering. For example, Feldman points out that on the Somerset House Will, we find a line ending with the word "respectably", but MacDougall's version of this same line (203-4) uses the word "respectable". What Feldman chooses not to mention is that on p209 MacDougall quotes the same line; manages to make FIVE errors in transcribing it, and renders the last word as: "respectably". In 1993 I drew Feldman's attention to this erratic abuse of sources. But his mind is closed.
CONCEALED is the fact that the holograph Will carries a red ink endorsement which reads: " Affidavit of search filed T. E. Paget District Registrar", this confirms that, after search, no other Will or codicil was found. Thus there were no other versions in existence and nothing in conflict with the Will signed on 25th April 1889. No one else but Feldman is blind enough to keep believing in the folly of 'two Wills' taken to grant. Not even MacDougall believed that. Legally it was impossible.
CONCEALED ALSO is the fact that although, there was a temporary panic in the Maybrick house, when the Will could not be located, no other Will was ever signed. And the original of April 29th was eventually found, safe in a sealed envelope. It was afterwards handed to the Coroner on 28th May 1989 and read by him and by lawyers.
The post-trial fuss over this Will had nothing to do with forgery. It resulted from attempts by anguished sympathisers to show that Florence had been hard done by. The passion generated by the case led to many extravagant statements being issued.
MacDougail went so far as to state: " I say it is absolutely inconceivable that James Maybrick could have been in his sound senses when he signed this will..." (p 208) And Florence's solicitor tried to argue that unlawfull pressure and influence had been exerted on James.
But this Will was written by a man who knew exactly what he was doing. It was very much along the lines described by Florence herself,four months earlier. (Letter to her mother of 31 Dec 1888)
FURTHER CONCEALED is the fact that since 1993 Feldman has been smearing this Will, dated April 25th, by claiming that Maybrick was too ill to write on that day. Thus the Will is forged. This false story was told to Reed Hayes, and to Journalists and one version runs thus:
"James Maybrick.. was in bed on 25th April (the testimony from Edwin confirms this) but the handwriting of the supposed will is not that of a dying man." (Letter to Nick Warren, 9 June 1995)
The trial records tell a very different story and refute this smear. Edwin's authentic testimony reads: "On the 25th of April this year I returned home from that country [USA), and on the 26th I first saw my brother at his office. I dined with him that evening, and at that time he seemed to be in his usual health."
So he was not in bed, he was not ill and his brother didn't even see him that day.
Two further points ohly, need to be considered. First, Feldman argues that, on the Will, the daughter's name is misspelled: it reads Eveleyn instead of Evelyn. But this means little. Both Feldman and Mrs Harrison have often mispelled my name. But many people have done this,simp]y because in their minds they have had a false picture. They have written my name as they imagined it should be written. And it was the same with Maybrick. He only knew his small daughter by one name, Gladys; the 'Evelyn' was an unused second name, and it may well have been the first time he had cause to write it. He wrote it as he imagined it should be written.
His second point is, frankly, laughable. He writes: "We were to find further strong evidence to suggest that James Maybrick did not hand write that will on 25 April 1889." And just what is that amazing evidence? It involves the knowledge that Maybrick had taken out two insurance policies; one on his own life for £3,000 and one in favour of his wife for £2,000. Feldman p242 solemnly states: " The policy for £2,000 is mentioned in the will at Somerset House. The policy for £3,000 is not. The largest policy of all would not have been overlooked by James Maybrick."
This is Blunderland once more. The policy for £3,000 is not mentioned, because it doesn't need to be mentioned. His Will states: " I leave & bequeath all my worldly possessions, of whatever kind or description, including.. .Life Insurances... in trust with my brothers..." That wording covers each and every Life Insurance policy left in trust. So he was free to take out a score or more of extra policies without having to give details of any one of them. The two policies made out in his wife's name were mentioned only because they were the two things specifically left to her. All this I made plain back in 1993. No excuses allowed.
(FOR A FULL, DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT OF THE ATTEMPTS TO DENIGRATE THIS WILL SEE: "THE MAYBRICK WILL- THE CRUCIAL KEY TO A SHABBY HOAX")
All this is lax and deplorable, and so is the treatment of the scientific tests on the Diary. Of the ink he writes:
"...Mr Kuranz, employed or consulted by Kenneth Rendell, confirmed Nicholas Eastaugh's findings that the ink is of Victorian age." (p85)
This is not true; it misrepresents the conclusions of both men. They have both reported that the ink is an iron-gall ink with no traces of modern 20th century dyes. As such, it is the same type of ink that was used in 1888. It is also the same type of ink that was used in 1908, 1918, 1928, 1938, 1948, 1958 etc. Some such inks are still made today. Once again, I explained this back in 1993.
It is wearisome to have to keep on stating the elementary truth. An iron-gall ink is one of the simplest of all inks. A sample made today will match the basic profile of any other iron-gall ink, regardless of its age. The chemistry Involved is the same today as it was a century or more ago. Neither Kuranz nor Eastaugh has dated the Diary ink. In fact, after use and exposure for 18 months or so, there is no known reliable way of dating such an ink.
This does not stop Feldman from musing about the McNeil ion-migration test and asking of Kenneth Rendell "...why were you changing your mind from a 1921 to a 1991 forgery?
The answer to this has already been given by me on the Internet. It is there for everyone to read, but it is convenient for Feldman to ignore it. In short Rendell did not change his mind. His report was the work of five independent examiners. McNiel stood on his own, and the others doubted whether his test gave any reliable results.
(Robert Smith, oddly enough, agreed with them and I quote his words in my piece on the ink tests) . So see under: 'THE DIARY INK TESTS : A FACT-FILE FOR THE PERPLEXED.'
In treating the Diary ink tests initiated by myself and surgeon Nick Warren, Feldman indulges in some pretty low tactics. He states (pgs 201-2) that Leeds redid the tests and "...could find no chloroacetamide. Melvin Harris then responded by criticising the Wolfson Laboratory. On 16 January 1995, Mr A Kazlauciunas answered Mr Harris's allegations:"
At that point Feldman prints a page-and-a-half long letter from Mr Kazlauciunas without disclosing that I have never been shown this letter. It is a letter that could have been replied to easily, but I was never given the chance to reply.
I spoke to Mr Kazlauciunas on the 30th September. He stated that:
(1) He did not give permission for his letter to printed in Feldman's book. (2) That he had no idea that it had been used until I drew his attention to it. (3) He did not know that I had never been shown the text of this letter. (It was sent to Mrs Harrison) (4) He agreed that I should have been made aware of its contents so that any misunderstandings could have been cleared up.
With the ink he fudges, and in dealing with the handwriting question Feldman fudges and conceals once more. He tells us about the judgements made by Reed Hayes, Anna Koren and Sue Iremonger. The only authentic Questioned Document Examiner of the three is Sue Iremonger; the other two are disciples of the psuedo-science known as Graphology. (It claims to be able to predict and unveil the personality behind the writing. Palmistry claims the same for the hand.)
Sue Iremonger proved to be an awkward customer since she reported that the handwriting on the Will matched James Maybrick's writing on his marriage certificate, but it failed to match the Diary writing. This unwelcome report was dismissed by Feldman on the grounds that Sue had not studied the effects on handwriting of 'multiple personality disorder'. As he says on p229:
"As far as I was concerned, this means that Sue was not qualified to comment on whether the diary was genuine."
But multiple personalities are extremely rare phenomena; and when they arise they are readily indentified by persistent amnesia and by the great diversity of the personalities displayed. The symptoms never go unnoticed - except in Hollywood movies! In the case of James Maybrick there was nothing at all in his behaviour that justifies the idea of mutiple personality disorder. If anything, he was a staid, stable and stodgy businessman. A typical Victorian male, matching countless others on his level.
So the attempt to drag in this rare condition is just a cheap way of avoiding the real issues and an excuse for denigrating the work of skilled examiners. For Sue was not alone. Feldman fails to tell his readers that her diagnosis was matched independently by other skilled examiners, like Rendell himself, like Joe Nickell and like Maureen Casey Owens, who was the Chicago Police Department's expert in document examination for over 25 years. Each of these examiners pronounced the Diary to be a fake. And the new samples of Maybrick's writing from the 1880's, prove that they were right all along.
They also found no connection between the Diary handwriting and the writing on the Ripper missives of September 25th and October the 1st. Yet the Diary clearly lays claim to them.
It is worth noting that Feldman waffled on about this Will for two and a half years before he even bothered to go and see it. And yet the trip from his Baker Street office to the Strand, is an easy hop. And when confronted by the original document, he learned nothing. If he had known what to look for he would have recognised that in front of him were features not visible on a photocopy. Those special features prove that this is the very Will seen by MacDougall, though never transcribed by him.
Equally short-sighted was Anna Koren when, after contemplating the handwriting for almost nine months,she reported in Sept.1993:
"The handwriting in the diary seems to have gradually faded with the years..." But the ink she saw was not a faded ink. The lady had been looking at an ink that had been diluted, hence the washed-out appearance. I commented on this when I saw the Diary in October 1993; others noticed this as well.
It was this very washed-out quality that misled Alec Voller (from Diamine Inks) into concluding that the Diary ink was not made by them. He now realises that he had been expecting to see the ink in its neat state, and that dilution would alter its normal appearance. He also accepts that any bronzing now present was not in evidence when examined three years earlier. Furthermore bronzing is an erratic happening, not a reliable guide to age, as the many dated samples in my reference collection prove.
Nothing, then, remains of the imagined evidence for this Diary. We are left only with the human testimony and a great deal of muddled and confused vapourings about 'family connections' and 'family cover-ups'. One such cover-up is hinted at on Feld 208-9 where it states that Brian Maybrick's: "...unmarried aunts were not too happy when Trevor Christie released his book .. [1Etched in Arsenic'] What were Brian's aunts concerned about?
The suggestion here is, naturally, that they had wind of a Ripper scandal. Nothing of the sort. In 1940 Richard Whittington-Egan visited these aunts and talked to them at length. They were prim maiden ladies with Victorian values and were against the Maybrick case being dragged up,in any form, at any time. To them it was a sordid story involving adulteries and illegitimate children. It was not the type of family history that they welcomed being revived by any writer or historian. And that was the sole reason for their later hostility to Christie's book. Cover Up? Baloney!
But what about the new provenance? Originally, it was stated that in 1991 Mike Barret had been given the Diary as a present. His Santa Claus had been a man called Devereux, a former newspaper compositor, who died before the Diary reached the Crew literary agency, in London. Anne Barrett acquiesced in this story from the start, and as late as June 27th 1994 told the Liverpool 'Daily Post' : " He told me he got the diary from Tony Devereux and that is all I know." Note, June 27th was after Mike had stated that the Diary was a forgery.
The tale told by the Diary camp in 1993 ran thus: Mike knew nothing of the murders or the Maybricks. He then "...bought a word processor and launched himself into extensive research. He spent hours sifting through microfilm newspaper reports... (Harrison p7). This blarney, of course, fitted in with the Diary camp's fantasy that: "...If it had been forged, this diary had involved extensive research." (Feld p128). Extensive research to create, meant extensive research to confirm. But, as I have shown no extensive research was ever needed, and Mike had, in fact, owned a word processor since April 3rd 1986; it was an 'Amstrad', No 8256.
From the first, the authentication of the Diary was inept. The text of the Diary was known to be on Mike's computer disks. It was there, he said, to make it easier to study. But no attempt was ever made to have his computer disks searched for evidence of composition. And no attempt was made to display a replica of the Diary in Liverpool. Any good specialist bookbinder could have made a near-exact replica for fifty pounds or less. Put on display, this might well have brought forward people able to recognise the book and provide us with its pedigree.
But Anne Barrett now says she knows the real pedigree: she had it from Dad, who had it from Gran, who had it from - God knows whom! Can we believe her? If I confine myself to the evidence provided by Feldman's book and by the press, then no one can accuse me of character assassination.
Feldman (p128) tells us that in February 1993 he met Anne together with Mike and their daughter Caroline. At one point Caroline was cross-examined by Paul Begg and Martin Howells. They "were relentless" admits Feldman, and they forced out of her statements that seemed to confirm Mike's story. But did they? Or was the girl going along with a pre-rehearsed family tale? Feldman thinks not: "Caroline told the truth; that is all a kid of eleven can do.” Really? Try telling that yarn to any experienced schoolteacher!
Anne herself, played a passive part until Feldman suggested that the Diary: "was not quite kosher..." (p130). In other words, illegally obtained. "Anne's response was, 'Did you nick it, Mike?'" Note that. She later claimed that she had given the book to Devereux. If you believe that, then you have to accept that her question "Did you nick it?", was part of a deceptive act. No one forced her to ask that question, it was thrown in to make her seem like a genuinely puzzled outsider.
It was in this blinkered state that Feldman pursued his search. He always saw what he wanted to see. Of his visit to Maybrick's grave he writes: " The grave made me shiver... On the back of the gravestone was a water stain that had manifested itself over time. To me it looked exactly like a man holding a knife."(131-2)
In that state, Feldman was prepared to believe anything that backed up his fixation with the Diary. When an electrician rang and pretended that the Diary had been found in Battiecrease House Feldman jumped at the idea. But the electrician wanted money to tell all. Feldman says: " For the first time his story bothered me. I am only being honest when I say that I pushed this thought to the back of my mind - of course he was telling the truth. It had to be the solution. The diary had been stolen.. .I wanted these to be the answers..." (p 135)
Here the man reveals his true self. He's prepared to believe almost anything whenever it suits him. But wanting things to be true is a fatal snare. No serious investigator can ever afford to lapse into that state of mind. But stuck with that state of mind, Feldman had to find some way out of the dilemma posed by Mike's confession'.
For my part, I have never believed that Mike forged the Diary on his own, as he claimed. I have stated this many times. But he did show some signs of inside knowledge, and any scraps that he offered were worth checking on.
It was at this time, that we began to hear more of Mike's failings. He was a liar and lived in a dream world. He was a braggart and a drunkard. But all that was known back in 1992,when he did his Diary deal. It was ignored at the time. It was never allowed to interfere with commercial exploitation of the Diary. It is amusing to reflect that If I had ever described Mike in those terms I would have been denounced as scurrilous. Now he is fair game, and now it is suddenly fashionable to tell the truth. Once Mike had broken ranks, the Diary camp were in confusion and Feldman, in particular, looked for some way out. There was even wild talk of dual identities. Feldman says about the Barretts:
“Were this couple who they said they were? I had always believed that the Ripper was known to the Establishment. If he was, would the government have protected his descendants or deliberately confused their records?" p 142.
In this paranoid atmosphere it was even suggested that Mike was a bigamist, and time and money was spent chasing up evidence of this bigamy. It came to nothing.
It was this paranoia that led Feldman to engage a private investigator to look into Anne's backgound. And his attempt to gain a new provenance led him to mount an agressive campaign directed at Mike's family. Mike's sister Lynne was targeted by him by phone and she protested: " When are you going to leave us alone? When will this stop?" Feldman replied: "It won't.. .Not until I know the truth. I've invested too much time and money to let it go away..." p145. Lynne was so upset by Feldman's gross, hectoring manner that she hung up on him and burst into tears.
This incident provoked Anne into ringing Feldman. She yelled at him. She told him he had no right to upset her friends and should 'back off'. But Feldman said he had no intention of letting go, he writes (p146): " 'I believe you are connected to this diary,' I told her. 'I believe this has come from your family and I want to know the truth.'...we spoke for nearly four hours." FOUR HOURS!
After four hours Anne understood that the pressure would not stop until a new provenance emerged; and she was the key figure. Then, lo and behold, a miracle, for a new provenance suddenly emerged, and verily there was great rejoicing in 'Diaryland', and the fatted calf was slain, and the wine did flow.
The first bringer of good tidings was Anne herself. On 23 July 1994 Feldman took her to the Moat House in Liverpool. He then showed her a page from Morland's book and the private investigator's report on her. Feldman says: " The report and the page.. .p]ayed on Anne's mind, but I was not aware of this at the time. I am not at liberty to reveal the details of this report."
The page from Morland's book did no more than record that on release from prison Florence Maybrick went under the name Mrs Graham, and Graham was by coincidence Anne's maiden name. But it is no more than a coincidence. It arises only because one of Florence's old family names happened to be Ingraham and she used a truncated form of that name for a short while. When she left for America she used the full form, sailing as Rose Ingraham.
Beware of coincidences. Such things had already led Feldman into nonsensical beliefs in government cover-ups and Mike's bigamy, but some people never learn. And Anne came up with the story that she had been the real owner of the Diary; and she had bequeathed it, anonymously, to Mike. Devereux was simply an in-between.
On their next meeting she demonstrated her 'reliability' by giving a false account of herself, as Feldman reveals:
"She had also been concerned by the report that I had shown her at the Moat House, although at the time, she had expressed nonchalance. Anne 'created' a story about why the confidential report's strange information existed. It sounded like bulishit to me. Anne knew I thought that. 'Do you believe what I've told you?' she asked. 'Not a bloody word', I responded. 'I didn't think you would' she said.. "(p153)
So there we have it. Feldman expects us to trust in this lady who has told two conflicting stories about the Diary's origins; who has strange, hidden events in her past; and who prepared a bogus story about that past, when it suited her. And Feldman fails to mention that she also once claimed that she had hidden the Diary for three years in their tiny house before arranging for Mike to see it. She said: " I never showed it to Mike.. Why, I honestly don't know. I did not like having the diary in the house and jammed it behind a cupboard." (Harrison p235 pbk)
Didn't her father Billy back her up though? When Feldman met Billy the man was doomed. He was dying of cancer and if his beloved daughter was in trouble, then he was quite prepared to back her in any way possible. The interviews he made are disjointed, ambiguous and without value. But they can be interpreted to mean that there was a connection with Mrs Maybrick, or the 'dirty old cow' as he called her. But the idea of this connection had been forced on him by prior knowledge of the Morland book and by a series of questions that were asked that were loaded and by my standards, improper.
You can see this happening on pages 167 to 170. Later pages show the warping continuing. For example, take the question on page 180 where Feldman asks: " So you would suspect that we would be able to find Florence in Hartlepool in 1879?" and Billy answers: "I wouldn't doubt it - yes." This came after so much meandering and priming on earlier days that its value is Nil.
Feldman himself (p167) has the grace to admit that he is an inexperienced interviewer. By contrast, I was trained in interviewing techniques by the BBC, working with outstanding practitioners, such as John Tusa. It is from that position that I regard these printed interviews as appalling. And I have to note that no one with a knowledge of the subjects and with real skills in interviewing, was ever permitted to talk to Billy Graham.
There is, of course, the claim that the Diary was left him in a metal tin box in 1950, and that he didn't bother to read it. This claim dissolves at once when you recall that the Diary quotes an inventory entry that did not see print until 1987, and it embodies references to a bogus poem that first saw light in 1959.
There are two other fragments of the Diary text that deserve special mention, since they have bearing on the question of the identities of the forgers. Feldman makes a great point of the Diary text which reads: " Christmas is approaching and Thomas has invited me to visit him.. .I have decided to accept his offer..."
Feldman claims that this text proves the Diary contains inside knowledge. He says this text is confirmed by an unpublished letter by Florence's mother. This leads him to write: "James had gone away for Christmas..." p73 and " Hubby had been away, that's for sure!" p 294. Since this letter could not have been known to the Diary fakers, it prompted Feldman to bate Mike Barrett. If Mike was the master forger, then he had to explain how he knew: "..that James Maybrick was indeed away from home at Christmas 1888? " p159.
Barrett did in fact offer an answer that was taped by private investigator Alan Gray . Shorn of its repetitions and over-ripe oaths, a transcript reads: "That other book, The 'poisoned Life' one, says he was in thick with Thomas.. He only lived 20 miles away in Manchester.. See the connection?... It's all about plotting... It's just a big circle.. .The first was in Manchester so the last has to be in Manchester. It's put down like that in the diary. F... .it, he was only 20 miles away.. .You don't need a f...... excuse to hop over and see your brother... Everyone visits everyone else at Christmas time...”
This, of course, is Barrett claiming inside information, and has to be treated with caution. Despite that, he has correctly indicated just what the Diary is doing. Feldman, on the other hand,is claiming things for the unpublished letter that will not hold up to scrutiny. For that letter makes no mention of Christmas. It says no more than this: "...The December of 1888 was the first time during her married life that she had been able to dance or had been out in society; and her health was then stronger. She was left unattended by her husband..."
At the last count there were 31 days in that month. And on the 31st we know he was at home, quarrelling with his wife. But nothing anywhere tells us what he was doing on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or Boxing Day. The Diary is not drawing on rare information. No breathtaking research was needed to work in the idea of a Christmas visit. And the quoted letter has no bearing on the matter whatsoever.
The second fragment involves a five word phrase that jars with the rest of the plodding Diary text. In the course of a quite silly passage, Mrs Harrison claims that the forger must have: "... creative and historical skills enabling him to.. .produce such literary phrases as 'oh, costly intercourse of death', while haphazardly making grammatical and spelling mistakes..."
That particular phrase baffled everybody; neither myself nor Martin Fido could place it, and we both know a great deal about English literature. The BBC Reference Library failed to place it. Not one of my erudite colleagues in television could place it. But Mike Barrett could, and did! It came from a book he owned, volume two of the 'Sphere History of Literature, English Poetry and Prose 1540 - 1674.' I have examined this book. It has three binding defects, one of these causes the book to fall open at pages 184 & 185. Page 184 carries just four lines of verse, they read:
O costly intercourse Of deaths & worse, Divided loves. While son & mother Discourse alternate wounds to on another.
These lines were written by the little-known 17th century poet, Richard Crashaw. So how did they find their way into a 'killer's confession'? Mike supplied an answer. He explained that when the hoax was being planned these lines were spotted. It was quite accidental. But for the fakers 'intercourse' meant one thing: Sex. And sex and death seemed to fit in well with the image of the Ripper, "So it was put in as a joke”
You may believe Mike or not, but the fact is that the words are there, in the Diary, even if they have been botched a little. On the other hand you may want to believe that the Ripper shared the same taste in verse as Mike. If you do, please exp]ain how the 1959 'whores' verses got in as well. Take plenty of time to think about it.
Time, brings us logically to that watch. Is it connected with the Diary? Not at all. It is an opportunistic hoax inspired by the Diary and that's all. It is an independent venture that only came to light six or more weeks after the Maybrick/Ripper alliance was written about in the Liverpool Post. The alleged dating is not a dating of the scratches, it is just the dating of two ultra-tiny particles of corroded brass found at two points in those scratches. Those particles could well have been deposited by two means:
(1) They could have been shed from a well-corroded brass pointer used to make the scratches. (2) They could have been deposited by a contaminated cleaning cloth or buff when the markings were polished & 'distressed'.
(I find the book a little coy when it talks about the funding of the watch tests. One gets the impression that Albert was prepared to fund everything on his own. But a statement from Robert Smith Smith, dated 3/11/1993, shows that Albert had been paid one thousand pounds, and a further statement from the Crew agency dated 20 December 1994 shows a further payment of two thousand pounds. I can1t say how many other payments were made, if any, but at least that sets the record partly straight.)
Though described as 'Maybrick's watch' it is not a Man's watch at all; it is a Lady's watch. No robust Victorian businessman would be seen dead sporting such a watch! And Timothy Dundas, the horologist who cleaned and repaired this watch in 1992, has sworn an affidavit which states that the 'Ripper scratches’ were not in that watch when he worked on it. And in working on it he used the standard watchmaker's magnifying loupes, which show up every scratch and abrasion.
How does Feldman get around this problem? He asserts that there are TWO watches; the one handled by Dundas and the 'Ripper' one owned by Albert Johnson. But Albert swears that he bought this watch in July 1992, from Stewart's jeweller's shop in Wallasey. The owner of that shop confirms that he had it overhauled by Dundas before selling it to Albert, and that should be the end of the matter for any reasonable person, but not for Feldman. He so wants this watch to be Maybrick's that he accuses Albert of lying.
To soften the blow, Feldman theorises that Albert might have, "...been sworn to secrecy about the watch, I know Albert would never break that promise." So what grim secret is Albert hiding? Feldman declares that Albert is a Maybrick. And he produces two bits of evidence that he claims proves this Maybrick connection.
One piece is: " A direct link between Albert Johnson and the Maybrick household...". (p223) This takes the form of two wedding certificates. The one dating from 1888 is that of Albert's grandmother. The other dated March 1896 is that of Bessie Jane Over, whose mother had once worked for the Maybricks up to 1887.
Feldman claims that these two certificates were witnessed by by the same man, a William McKay. He writes: " We ordered the originals of both wedding certificates. The signatures were too similar to be from different people. Here was a link between Albert Johnson's family and the Maybricks."
Feldman, however, doesn't display the two signatures for us to view, so I too sent for the originals. They show that the two signatures were written by two distinct individuals. The connection is imaginary; a dream that had to yield to reality.
The next piece of 'impressive research' involves an entry in a birthday book once owned by Olga Maybrick Ellison. The entry shown by Feldman reads:"Mrs Johnson 160 Goodwin Avenue Bidston"
Feldman writes: " I passed this to Carol , she stared at me, and said, almost in disbelief, ' I'm sure Robbie told me that they once lived in Goodwin Avenue...' Could this entry refer to Albert and Robbie Johnson's mother? Carol and I went to see Pobbie.. The family had lived in Goodwin Avenue - in the 1960's " (p210)
I found the wording of that section more than curious. There was no confirmation that the family had ever lived at 160 Goodwin Avenue. Why was such important data missing? I checked first with 'Kelly's' directory for 1960. This showed that the family living at 160 Goodwin Avenue was named JOHNSTONE. But directories can sometimes err, so I consulted the Electoral Registers for the 1960's. These confirmed that 'Kelly's' was correct. The family at the crucial address was the Johnstone family; David, Margaret and George. No connection whatsoever with the Johnson fami]y (Alfred and Margaret) who once lived at 37 Goodwin Avenue between 1962-1964..
So bang goes the Johnson/Maybrick links and we are left with nothing but assertions and an array of photographs. Of these photographs the kindest thing to say, is that if they prove anything, it is only that people who have no relationships can sometimes seem to look like each other.
The photograph of Mary Graham well illustrates this. When the names are covered by slips of paper she is invariably identified as one of the five 'Whittlesey Maybricks', shown in a group photograph! But they are said to be descended from James Maybrick, while Mary is supposed to be descended from Florence Chandler. As for Albert, I see men like him all over the place, so are we facing a conspiracy of clones?
And thinking of clones, touches on the matter of DNA tests. The idea of such tests was never forced on Feldman, on the contrary he forced the idea on his audience at a book-signing, back in January 1995. He was then talking primarily of Albert. If he has now changed his mind, well that's his prerogative.
In summing up what are we to make of all this? This book was first talked about in mid-1994. And we are told that one hundred and fifty thousand pounds has been spent on research. And yet not one single useful, authentic Ripper document has been brought to light. On the Maybrick side, the only useful material was that batch of handwritten letters found in Richmond, Virginia.
And few of the characters involved come out of this maelstrom looking good. Mike is a drunken liar; Robbie and Albert Johnson are both shown as liars; two of the Battlecrease electricians are liars as well; while Anne Graham is depicted as an inventor of tall stories! As for the author, if I had told the world what he now reveals about himself, then I would have been met with shouts of "Foul!".
The key figure in keeping this hoax alive is, of course, Anne Graham. Some people believe her, some don't, while others are baffled. But remember Woody Allen's remarks on the Dead Sea Scrolls: " The authenticity of the scrolls is currently in great doubt, particularly since the word 'Oldsmobile' appears several times in the text..." And there are 'Oldsmobiles' in the Diary text. No air of sincere innocence can explain those away. But this is an old, old story.
In 1928 Wilma Frances Minor produced a cache of letters said to have been written by Abe Lincoln to his sweetheart Ann Rutledge. These letters took in many, including Carl Sandburg, Lincoln's then most famous biographer. Lincoln author, William E Barton was sucked in as well and fell in love with the ex-actress who owned the letters. Then the hoax collapsed. As with the Diary, details from a much later period crept in to the texts and were spotted.
In her defence, Wilma pleaded that her spiritualist mother had received the letters direct from Lincoln in Spiritland. Mummy came to her aid and backed her tale. Naturally, this was greeted with scorn, but before that, few had doubted her words and her simple sincerity.
Even murderesses have convinced people with their air of innocence, as Edith Saunders observes of Marie La Farge: "Everyone who came in contact with her believed her innocent. She, like a pampered child.. accepted this belief as proof of her own guiltlessness.. She liked, in fact, to say that the good knew innocence when they saw it.
“But was the innocence not in other people when they believed, rather than in herself? Did she not exploit human decency to the full as she exploited religion itself...? She strove tirelessly with the aim that all men, all posterity, should be convinced that she was innocent."
On the lighter side we had the innocence displayed by the girls in the 'Cottingley Fairies' hoax and the 'Talking Mongoose' scam.
But why do publishers fall for this type of roguery? Journalist Mark Honigsbaum is sure he knows why; "...publishing is now a lucrative worldwide industry that feeds into even more lucrative media such as television and film. With this commercialisation of the media has come greater competition for original stories. The problem is, there are hardly any that haven't been reported.”
And Robert Harris, author of 'Faking Hitler', writes: " The standards of publishing in Britain and America have declined to such a degree that these days it is hard to know what is true and what is fake... I do not think publishers used to produce so much crapulous work. It is all about feeding a gullible market."
Robert Harris further agrees with my position when he says: ”The surprise is that investigative journalists and academics, who are supposed to be expert in processing information and at documentation, should also turn out to be so gullible. In the thrill of discovery normal standards of objectivity and scepticism can unwittingly be suspended as the author and his collaborators become more or less willing accomplices. There is a sort of group psychosis that sets in. Once an author and publisher set down a certain path the will to believe becomes very strong. Quite rational authors become quite irrational."
In my 'TRUE FACE OF JACK THE RIPPER' I wrote this of the Diary:
“Unfortunately every hoax contaminates the fields of honest research, even if it is exposed. Like the Clarence hoax this one will not die overnight. It's time-wasting stupidities will linger on to dog historians for years to come.”
My forecast came true, and that is the sole reason for this analysis. Neither prestige nor money plays any part in my deliberations. They were governed by a dedication to rational thought, fair play and honest reporting. And nothing less than that is acceptable - ever!
APPENDIX:- FROM ROGER WILKES
IF you dislike practical jokes, read no further. The Ripper diary, 'unearthed' in 1991 in Liverpool, is a practical joke. Or a hoax. What it simply cannot be is genuiine. Sorry, but while the Ripper could have been one of a thousand men, one man he wasn't was James Maybrick. The clue is hidden in the very flrst page of the 'surviving text', when the writer describes taking 'refreshment at the Poste House in Liverpool. But in the year 1888, when this entry is supposed to have been written, there was no Poste House in Liverpool. There's one there now, it's true, tucked up Cumberland Street, a ginnel linking Dale Street and Victoria Street in the city centre. But it's only been known as the Poste House for the last thirty years or so. Back in 1888, when Jim Maybrick was supposed to be writing up his ripping intentions, the Poste House went under a name that was much more down-to-earth. It was known the length and breadth of Liverpool as The Old MM - the Muck Midden.
It seems an unprepossessing name for a pub. According to legend, at some point in the tavern's distant past some exceedingly fine ale was found buried in barrels in a cellar that had once served as the landlord's midden - or muck heap. Certainly, the place was known as The Muck Midden in December 1887 when the pub was the subject of a lengthy article in the weekly magazine Liverpool Citizen. So why, just a few months later, when Maybrick notes in his 'journal' that his glamorous American wife Florence had arranged a 'rendaveau' with Alfred Brierley, does he write of taking refreshment in the Poste House?
At some stage in the pub's history, the rather unsavoury Muck Midden tag was dropped. Certainly since the early l96Os, the place has been known as the Poste House. At least, that was the name on the sign over the door. But I was a regular there myself in the early 1970s, and remember meeting old timers in the bar who still used its earlier Victorian sobriquet. The Poste House as a name was still comparatively new.
But how new? Perhaps the change had been made by the time our ripping diarist made his entry in 1888. Sadly not. A clue lies in the name itself, a reference not to any coaching links (the pub stands in a very narrow street, unsuitable as a staging post) but to the now-disused main post office nearby. It is the nearest pub to the post office front door, and at one time was popular with postal workers who drank there at the end of their shift. (It should really have been named the Post House, but someone at the brewery seems to have tagged on an Olde Englishe 'e'.) The fact is that in 1888, there would have been no reason to name the pub either the Poste House or Post House for the simple reason that the post office wasn’t built until 1899. In 1888, the site was occupied by a foundry. The first tentative allusion to postal matters in the pub’s name is only found in the early 1900’s. In 1906, seven years after the opening of the post office, the pub is listed in the Liberpool telephone directory as the New Post Office Hotel. In 1932, an illustration in the Liverpolitan magazine shows clearly that the age of the Poste House was still in the future; above the front window of the pub is a large sign proclaiming New Post Office Restaurant, while about the door the letters MM denoting Muck Midden are wrought in iron. Shortly after the Ripper diary came to light, I made a discovery that, to my mind, nails the matter once and for all. I chanced on a fragile book of sketches of Liverpool streets drawn by the artist Hugh Magenis between 1886 and 1888. Sketch 55 is of Cumberland Street, clearly depicting some half-dozen buildings clustered around the pub at which Jim Maybrick is supposed to have taken refreshment while deciding that ‘...London it shall be.’ No Poste House in sight. Just a simple sign welcoming Victorians to ... The Old MM. Poste House? Still seventy years away, I’m afraid, awaiting immortality from the pen of a thirsty joker. As Jonathan Goodman observed (of a different case in a different city): “There’s no more brutal murder than the killin gof a fine theory with a hard fact.”
Roger Wilkes has written three true crime books. His latest, Blood Relations, deals with the case of Jeremy Bamber, convicted of murdering five members of his family at White House Farm in Essex in 1985. He is a freelance journalist working chiefly for the BBC.
One point made by Robert Harris' can be supplied with an apt illustration. He writes "In the thrill of discovery normal standards of objectivity and scepticism can unwittingly be suspended as the author and his collaborators become more or less willing acomplices. There is a sort of group psychosis that sets in.. .the will to believe becomes very strong."
This will to believe led the Diary camp to insist that their precious asset contained rare information. They ignored the popular sources and delved into little-used archives in an attempt to show that any hoaxers would have needed to mount an intensive campaign of research. The fuss over the one word 'strengthens', arose because the Feldman team felt that they had proved their point by unearthing a confirming letter in the hardly used Home Office files. This letter, from John Fleming, is the one which used the phrase "...I take this arsenic once in a while because I find it strengthens me."
The Feidmanites did note that this document had been quoted by J.H. Levy back in 1899, but concluded that hoaxers would be unlikely to know that rare book. And they were right. In dismissing Levy as a source Keith Skinner said: " Firstly, a forger would have to locate it and finally plough through the entire book to 'lift' one single word- and Joe Nickell called this an amateurish fake!" (p 294)
As you can see, the euphoria generated by this 'amazing find' led Skinner into sneering at the verdict passed by Joe Nickell. But Joe was spot on. And their hazy fug can soon be dispersed by some cold wind. For the Fleming letter has never been obscure. It has been in print for years, and easily available to the hoaxers. It can be found on page 25 of Bernard Ryan's popular paperback, 'THE POISONED LIFE OF MRS MAYBRICK' and on page 218 of Trevor Christie's, 'ETCHED IN ARSENIC', a copy of which is kept in the Reference Library in Liverpool.
In his book Mr Feldman boasts: " From the moment I became involved with the project, I studied and read every book I could find on the Maybrick trial." p292. Readers can now judge for themselves just how erratic his reading and studies were. But this is not an isolated incident. He is repeatedly wrong on every point of importance. Yet he still expects to be believed.