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Casebook: Jack the Ripper - Message Boards » Suspects » Druitt, Montague John » D. J. LEIGHTON'S NEW BOOK ON M. J. DRUITT « Previous Next »

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John Ruffels
Username: Johnr

Post Number: 343
Registered: 3-2003
Posted on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 4:39 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

With the Book Message Boards peremptorily decreeing " No New Threads', the "Suspects" line under "Druitt" looks the next best thing.

After some vague smoke signals early this year, D.J.Leighton's new book on Druitt, entitled :
" MONTAGUE DRUITT: Portrait of a Contender " (Hydangea Publishing: 6 Walnut tree cottages, London SW19 5DN: Price: Fifteen Pounds Sterling)
has hit the streets - well, is available by post
from the above address).
Perhaps it was Australian Tennis player Lleyton Hewitt's utterance after he had his big win at Wimbledon two years ago, which prompted Wimbledon based Leighton to get moving on writing this book.
( Lleyton uttered the great Australian exclamation - "Ripper"!! - which means "Wonderful", "You Little Beauty", etc ).
What with our very own Andy and Sue Parlour receiving a credit for one of the photos in the book, A.P. Wolf gets a citation. And what with RIPPEROLOGIST number 57, just out, running a review of the book, I thought I would establish a thread for those who would like to express their view of this new M J Druitt book.
Although I live in Australia, through the good offices of Chris Phillips, I have already obtained my copy, and read it.
I'll wait till others have expressed their thoughts before I lay mine down.
I only want to ask one question:
How could ANYBODY in the 21st Century publish a book on "Jack The Ripper"- especially if they want to be taken as serious students of the murders - and NOT acknowledge a debt to the magnificent store of data contained here on CASEBOOK: JACK THE RIPPER, the Website?.
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Chris Phillips
Chief Inspector
Username: Cgp100

Post Number: 741
Registered: 2-2003
Posted on Wednesday, February 23, 2005 - 1:16 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

My initial reaction was one of surprise at the size of the book. I had expected a "biography" of Druitt to be necessarily a slim volume. Instead it is a substantial hardback of about 200 pages, attractively produced and extensively illustrated.

I was generally impressed by the first half of the book - the biography of Druitt proper, which was detailed and seemed carefully researched. Inevitably a fair proportion of it was cricketing background, and speculation about the circles Druitt may have moved in.

I wasn't so keen on the discussion of his death, which retailed the alternative theories of a conspiracy to murder him based on the "Chummery" in Chiswick, and that he was murdered by his brother William for his money.

However, I did think the author made one interesting suggestion here - that when the cricket club minutes say Druitt had gone abroad, this may reflect what he had told Valentine of his intentions - possibly paralleling others who went abroad to escape the consequences of sexual scandals.

Sadly, I felt the book rather went downhill from then on. I can't really understand how so many discredited theories could still be given credence. Prince Albert Victor's clandestine marriage, Mary Kelly's alleged connection with his alleged wife, the masonic conspiracy, the fake Abberline diaries and so on are all presented as fact, usually without even any caution to the reader about their credibility.

One other niggle was the lack of references for many of the statements. I felt that - unfortunately - this sometimes meant that insufficient credit was given to previous researchers (an example was the discussion of Stephen Ryder's discovery of the Earl of Crawford's letter to Anderson).

Chris Phillips

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John Ruffels
Username: Johnr

Post Number: 346
Registered: 3-2003
Posted on Saturday, February 26, 2005 - 7:20 am:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thanks Chris Phillips,
For boldly leading the way.
Perhaps it is too early for American readers to have received their copies of the Leighton book, and to have frowned their way through the maze of mysterious references to that weird British game, cricket.
For although the title reference to "contender" might lead them to think this book has a "Rocky"
boxing theme, they will encounter yards of indecypherable details about a team sport played far-too-slowly by gentlemen in white flannels on a sea of green grass!
Yes, this is a sports fans book. And -in keeping with the world Montague Druitt inhabited - it is also, almost exclusively a Man's World.
The clue is the cover. A handsome, blue-is-for-boys shiny, neat cover, with white piping. It features the portraits of six illustrious late Victorian personnages.
As Chris has already semaphored, the early chapters on Druitt's school and university days,
are full of interesting facts, which help the reader understand the pressures and inducements for a middle-class country lad urged on by 'genteel'Country parents.
John Leighton uses the cricket afficionado's delight in poring over statistics to throw further light on the sporting career of this Dorset-born student. And as the author has stated elsewhere, he could not wait to rush up to his attic to haul out the 1880's era cricket game score cards of his relatives (the illustrious Christopherson family), to see what light they threw on the movements and performance on a particular day of Montague John Druitt.
But most of all, Leighton uses those lists of match players to demonstrate the (possible) wide network of influential cricketers whose own contacts could help Druitt in his upward rush to
Upperclass respectability.
The amazing array of people Druitt must have known and convivialised with in his short life must have been very wide. Just whether the enduring and strong bonds suggested by author Leighton to these celebrity persons eventuated is another matter.
Unfortunately, one significant year in Druitt's life has to be left blank, as there seems to be no, or hardly any, cricket fixtures to spin his life around.
But one should not be too negative at the wonderful amount of hard work which has gone into producing this interesting and well informed life of one of the premier (though by no means
conclusively evidenced), suspects for the Ripper murders.
Congratulations are due to John Leighton for his hard work, and the further light he has thrown on the previous efforts of Donald McCormick, Dan Farson, Martin Howells and Keith Skinner, and particularly, Irving Rosenwater..
A couple of other names I would have included are:
Richard B.A. Prichard; Algernon Haskett-Smith; John Henry Lonsdale (of the "Lulworth Lobsters"); and J. Wingfield.
The latter, John Wingfield was not only a fellow barrister with Druitt at 9 Kings Bench Walk, who was called to the Bar from the Inner Temple in 1880 (aged 47), but in between time, he had been an Assistant grammar master at author Leighton's
'alma mater', Christ's Hospital school.
Whilst John Wingfield was no celebrity cricketer other younger Wingfields were. William Wingfield
(born 1834, John was born 1830) played for Cambridge University, and a William Henry Wingfield (born 1857) played for Surrey.
But any Ripper student wishing to further their own knowledge of the Druitt's world, can do worse than purchase this book, which is not idly thrown together. Who knows, amongst the litter of names dropped in it, might be the vital link, which has so far evaded Druittists, till now.
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Unregistered guest
Posted on Monday, March 07, 2005 - 8:11 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

You might be interested to know that the Druitt's are still practicing solicitors.
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Andrew Spallek
Chief Inspector
Username: Aspallek

Post Number: 755
Registered: 5-2003
Posted on Wednesday, March 23, 2005 - 6:03 pm:   Edit Post Delete Post View Post/Check IP Print Post    Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only) Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Leighton's work is an important contribution to knowing the life story of Montague John Druitt, although an American reader may find it difficult to follow the discussions concerning cricket without additional research into the terminology of that sport.

Leighton's work suffers most from lack of clear organization. The reader finds himself skipping through Montague's life with puzzling detours here and there to discuss other figures whom Druitt may or may not have known and who may or may not have anything to do with the murders. A clear, concise timeline of Montague's life and especially his known movements during the Autumn of 1888 would have overcome this weakness. Alas, the book contains none.

From the research standpoint this book fails frustratingly in that it contains no supporting documentation for assertion of key "facts." The reader simply has to take Leighton's word!

Leighton proposes an arsenal of alibis for Druitt. Putting aside those of personality, let us consider the alibis of geography.

1. Druitt played cricket in Wimborne the day after the Nicholls murder. Leighton offers no documentation for this assertion and no scorecard is included for such a match even though many other scorecards are included in an appendix. What is the basis for Leighton's claim? We note that Druitt did play cricket in Blackheath the morning of Chapman's murder, but this is both documented by Leighton and well-known.

2. Druitt appeared in court in the West Country on the day after the double event. Again, Leighton makes this assertion but offers no documentation and gives no source. What is the basis for Leighton's claim?

3. Druitt could not have absented himself from Valentine's school at night because his duties consisted of his being a nighttime "warden" of sorts. This is merely an assumption -- citing the opinion of Blackheath historian Neil Rhind -- but is by no means a proven fact.

4. Druitt's chambers at no. 9 King's Bench Walk were an hour's walk from the East End murder sites. While this estimate may approach accuracy for the murder sites farthest away from King's Bench Walk, it is wildly inaccurate for the nearest. KBW can be reached from Mitre Square easily in 30 minutes at a brisk walk. At a hurried pace one should be able to walk it in a quarter-hour. The distance is about a mile. Furthermore, Druitt's guilt does not depend on his use of chambers he may have had at KBW.

If the above alibis, especially nos. 1 & 2, are accurate, this reviewer would have to agree that Montague Druitt is a most unlikely candidate to have committed all the murders. Even though these are not air-tight alibis, their combined weight is almost too difficult to overcome. But until Mr. Leighton or someone else provides documentation, Montague John Druitt remains a viable suspect.

One might also mention that Leighton completely misses Druitt's court appearance in London during the week before his death. Although the author discusses other appearances that seem to indicate Montague's generally mental clarity, he overlooks this evidence available to the world through the Times database.

As a final note, the book appears to this reviewer to be inordinately expensive. It is printed on very high quality paper and includes a stitched-in cloth bookmark, but is all this necessary? Perhaps a lower-cost paperback edition will be considered.

Andy S.

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