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Casebook: Jack the Ripper - Message Boards » Suspects » Sickert, Walter » Why Defend Walter Sickert? » Archive through February 27, 2004 « Previous Next »

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Marissa
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Posted on Tuesday, February 24, 2004 - 11:07 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I am sorta confused. And I would like to know something from all of you. I hope you can clear it up for me.

I have read through all the suspect's bios and theories of why they were suspects. Of course, some of the evidence points to several of them being very good canadiates of these crimes. Others, the facts were not so strong.

I recently read Patricia Cornwell's book: Jack the Ripper Case Closed. So then I read the posts, the editorials, and interviews here on this site about why or why not her theories are good ones.

And it seems to me that a lot of people here defend Walter Sickert very strongly as if he were a relative or something (maybe he was to one of you, I don't know). I am not taking sides or saying that he did or did not do it. I am new here, so please, no one attack me over this post! LOL But I am just curious as to why a lot of people here think that she is wrong.

After all, I read her book throughly, and read everything here too about this topic of Walter, and there are some things that do seem link him to these crimes.

I am one of these people who sometimes has a hard time believing in coninsidence when there is such similarities in things like this. I know that it does not make him guilty, I do not believe anyone should be said to have committed a crime just based on a few things.

But things based on what relatives and friends who knew him have said is that he had a rough childhood, hated women (and who cares if he eventually got married a few times, I know of a few people who get married just for show, not because they love their partner), had a twisted sense of humor, sarcastic, and some, not all, but some of his painting were very violent and creepy. Expecially ones that are compared to the Whitechapel murders. Why in the world would you paint that stuff? For fun?

So with all that it just seems like he fits the profile in some areas. I am into forensics, CourtTV is my fave channel, and I love mysteries. So I am not saying I am some peaches and cream, fluffy, puppies and kittens kinda person. But even being interesting in true crime would not make most people, in my opinion, paint it and go that far. I am not him and maybe that is what interested him. And that is fine. It just seems like he, like some of the other suspects, has a lot pointing to him as well. So since he does fit the profile in ways and since he does have some connections to this, why do so many people defend him so forcefully?

I do not have any thoughts on if he is guilty or not. I don't know because there are a lot of good points made on this site as well as in Patricia Cornwell's book.

Thank you all for your time. Hope to hear from someone soon.

Marissa
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Ally
Inspector
Username: Ally

Post Number: 305
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 11:17 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't necessarily think anyone here is defending Sickert. He may very well have been a misogynistic old codger who was a thoroughly terrible man. I could show you five in my immediate family who would fit that "profile".

That does not excuse Cornwall manufacturing evidence and a history that did not happen in order to bolster her theory.

Facts are facts and fiction is fiction. The fact that she predominately uses fiction and invention to accuse Sickert of committing these heinous crimes and banks on her celebrity to have the gullible believe her, while she rakes in piles of money...well it frosts a lot of people.

She is completely unethical. That is what the vehemence is about, not necessarily that we feel a tie of brotherhood to Sickert.
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Michael Raney
Detective Sergeant
Username: Mikey559

Post Number: 120
Registered: 9-2003
Posted on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 5:33 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Marissa,

Ally couldn't have said it better when she said "Facts are facts and fiction is fiction." The only thing that Cornwell may have right is that Walter Sickert may have written one or two of the letters to Police and others. This is not evidence of murder, but evidence of being a letter writer.

Mikey
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John Hacker
Inspector
Username: Jhacker

Post Number: 242
Registered: 2-2003
Posted on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 10:17 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Marissa,

I have 3 bookshelves FULL of books that make circumstantial cases against various suspects. Some are better than others, but they can't all be the Ripper.

Cornwell has unfortunately been extremely lax in her research. And her presentation of speculation as facts doesn't help her case in the slightest.

The burden of proof is on her to prove her case against Sickert and it's one that she has failed miserably. While her book isn't the worst suspect related book ever written, it's certainly bottom shelf material at best.

Regards,

John
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marissa
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Posted on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 9:44 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Thank you for your responses. I am glad that no one attacked me over my post, I did not want to make waves. I was just wondering what was up with the Sickert thing. I do not want anyone to think that I am defending Cornwell or defending Sickert. I am on the fence. I am not on anyone's side here.

Maybe I need to read through the suspects files again because I am confused as to what she altered or made up to fit her theory. What if she really did find things? What proof does anyone here or elsewhere have that he did not do it?

Just like she found things to "prove" he did do it, what is known here that proves that he didn't do it? I am still confused. Sorry. Thank you for posting responses!

,
Marissa
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Chris Michetti
Sergeant
Username: Pl4tinum

Post Number: 17
Registered: 2-2004
Posted on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 11:44 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Well, she claimed that he had to be the Ripper because of the dead women he painted in his works. Some of his paintings of the victims were very much like the actual crime scene photographs. She claimed that only the killer would know what to paint because nobody had seen certain things that he painted; when in fact he had seen the pictures in a french book that Cornwell never knew about. I hope I haven't confused you with that, it's second-hand knowledge that someone else could probably explain better.

As for proof that he didn't do it, I believe someone said he was vacationing in France at the time of the murders... I could be mistaken.

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Leanne Perry
Assistant Commissioner
Username: Leanne

Post Number: 1199
Registered: 2-2003
Posted on Wednesday, February 25, 2004 - 11:57 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

G'day,

Why doesn't everyone understand 'Impressionism'. It was a new and exciting art-movement that excelled in those times. Instead of painting cold 'life-less' scenery, buildings and monuments, artists began painting 'mood', 'feeling' and life around them, as they saw it.

LEANNE
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Peter Sipka
Sergeant
Username: Peter

Post Number: 11
Registered: 1-2004
Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2004 - 12:10 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Why are we always picking on Cornwell here? Why don't we pick on Harrison or Feldman? Their arguments are ten times worse.

If Cornwell didn't get so much attention or success from her book, would we be really talking about her as much?

I believe Druitt was a long ways away from Whitechapel too.

(Message edited by Peter on February 26, 2004)
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Sarah Long
Chief Inspector
Username: Sarah

Post Number: 753
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2004 - 6:12 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Peter,

No-one not "picking" on Cornwall in the slightest. She made up much if not all of her evidence.

I personally haven't read her book but I have skimmed through some pages whilst in a book shop as I just couldn't bring myself to part with money over it.

If you actually read carefully what other people above have said then can't you understand that they are just saying that she used fiction instead of fact and probably knowing what she was doing. If she didn't want critisism then she should have written actual facts, but then she couldn't do that as there would probably be no case against Sickert if she bothered to tell his real story.

Sarah

P.S If you think that Sickert could get from France and back at least five times without his family knowing then how can you possibly say that Druitt was far away.
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Marissa
Unregistered guest
Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2004 - 12:43 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Once again, thank you all for your posts. I am not trying to beat a dead horse but I am just trying to make sense of it all.

Here is the next part to my line of questioning :

Chris Michetti posted: "when in fact he had seen the pictures in a french book that Cornwell never knew about" I guess since I am just getting into the loop about this JTR thing, I was not aware of that fact. However, how do we know for fact that he saw the photos in a book? Did he say that? Or is that just what people think happened? And if he did say that...well people cover their tracks and lie all the time.


Chris Michetti also posted: "As for proof that he didn't do it, I believe someone said he was vacationing in France at the time of the murders" Do we have proof of that as well? I heard from somewhere online that his where-a-bouts were unknown all that time.

If Cornwell is just going on speculation and not facts like people are saying, then we should try to actually go on facts. That is why I keep asking if these things are for fact or if it is just what is rumored to be said.

Thank you again for responding and tolerating my questions.

,
Marissa



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Alan Sharp
Inspector
Username: Ash

Post Number: 478
Registered: 9-2003
Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2004 - 10:07 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Marissa

I will try to answer both your points and also a point made by Mark Starr on another thread where he stated that of Miss Cornwell that "Her errors are minor and inconsequential". The reason for giving all the answers here is that they fit well together.

I don't defend Walter Sickert, I think he was probably an unpleasant person. However, Adolf Hitler was a very unpleasant person and guilty of many crimes but if you told me he liked to eat babies I would ask you to show me the proof. Accuse Walter Sickert of mysogeny and infidelities and you will get no argument. But what he is being accused of on very little evidence is the brutal murder and mutilation of five or more women, and if you want to accuse someone of that you'd better have more evidence than Patricia Cornwell has got.

Now as to the errors. In her book Cornwell stated that after leaving Bishopsgate Police Station Catherine Eddowes walked down Houndsditch, then changed direction totally and walked a mile back into the city to Mitre Square. As anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the case knows, Mitre Square is at most 100 yards from Houndsditch, and is at the other end of it from Bishopsgate. Cornwell's description makes no sense.

Cornwell states that after Pearly Poll parted from Martha Tabram at the entrance to George Yard, she and her soldier walked a mile and a half to Angel Alley. Anyone who has stood in Whitechapel High Street will know that the entrance to Angel Alley is approximately 5 yards from the entrance to George Yard.

Minor and inconsequential errors? Perhaps. But a nine year old would probably have thought to, you know, look at a map. If Miss Cornwell cannot even get such very basic facts as these right, why should we have any confidence in anything else she writes in her book.

All very well, but there are bigger fish to fry, and it is the item that I always come back to. The newspaper wrapped around the Whitehall torso. In her book Patricia Cornwell makes a big issue over this newspaper. In her lectures since she has continually pointed to it as absolute evidence which puts Walter Sickert at the scene of this crime.

Now consider the inquest testimony of George Buddon, the man who unwrapped the Whitehall torso.

I cut the strings there and opened the rapper. The strings - a lot of old strings of different sorts -were tied up all round it several times across each way. There was only the wrapping I saw, no paper, and when the parcel was opened I saw the body of a woman.

Now I can accept that Patricia Cornwell made mistakes. I can accept that she mistakenly thought that there was paper wrapped around the body when there was not. What I cannot accept is that she mistakenly thought that the August 17th edition of the Daily News was wrapped around the body. That is not something you can make a mistake about. Patricia Cornwell lied. She fabricated evidence. Once you have done that, you lose all right to have your work taken seriously.

I have read Paul Feldman's book, and Bruce Paley's, and Bob Hinton's, and Martin Fido's, and James Tully's, and Shirley Harrison's, and Ivor Edwards', each of them pushes their own suspect, some of them I have admired, some less so, and every single one of them contains at least one connection or theory which I consider spurious. But none of them fabricated evidence to support their claims. Patricia Cornwell did. That's why they deserve respect and she does not. And as far as I am concerned, that is Case Closed.
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Chris Michetti
Sergeant
Username: Pl4tinum

Post Number: 23
Registered: 2-2004
Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2004 - 2:14 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Could someone please back me up on this claim? I'm pretty sure I read it here on the Casebook, and recently, that there was a book available in France (where Sickert was vacationing) that showed a never-seen-before picture of one of the corpses that he then painted... and that Cornwell claimed since no picture was available, he would have had to have painted it from memory of one of his killings. Am I wrong?

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Stephen P. Ryder
Board Administrator
Username: Admin

Post Number: 2993
Registered: 10-1997
Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2004 - 2:25 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi Chris -

That would be Lacassagne's Vacher et les crimes sadiques, 1899. It contained a mortuary photograph of Eddowes as well as the usual Kelly photograph.

It was recently discovered that the Kelly photograph actually appeared in print, also in France, even earlier than 1899, but that's the subject of a forthcoming book, so I don't want to take the wind out of the author's sails before it comes out. :-)

(Uh, the author isn't me by the way...)
Stephen P. Ryder, Editor
Casebook: Jack the Ripper
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Ally
Inspector
Username: Ally

Post Number: 307
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2004 - 2:26 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hey Beefcake,

From the dissertations section of the casebook:

"Also, as Wolf Vanderlinden points out, copies of the Mary Kelly photo, and the Eddowes mortuary photograph were first published for general consumption in France in 1899, in Lacassagne's Vacher l'Eventreur. Sickert may very well have seen these photos during one his many trips to France, and used them either consciously or subconsciously in his later work. Or, as seems more likely, the perceived similarities may just be a matter of coincidence."
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Chris Michetti
Sergeant
Username: Pl4tinum

Post Number: 26
Registered: 2-2004
Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2004 - 2:35 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Stephen & Ally,

Thank you both - there are so many books on the subject and I have only read these forums and I am working on Sudgen's book... I am well behind the rest of you in terms of getting my thoughts organized and having proof at my fingertips. One day... :-)

PS. Beefcake? LOL

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Paul Jackson
Sergeant
Username: Paulj

Post Number: 13
Registered: 2-2004
Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2004 - 8:44 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi All!!

I am by no means saying that Sickert was the Ripper, but, he is as good a suspect as any of the others. Cornwell's book was a very entertaining read even though she did seem to propose scenarios that were plausible in her own mind. She liked to use "there wasnt any direct
evidence to suggest that Sickert did this and that, but there was no evidence to suggest he didnt." She did read a great deal into his paintings though. And he probably did author a few ripper letters...that doesnt mean he's the Ripper......But it doesnt mean he's not either.
Just a thought.

Paul
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Jeffrey Bloomfied
Inspector
Username: Mayerling

Post Number: 288
Registered: 2-2003
Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2004 - 11:30 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

About 1977 I ran across a paperback book by Grosset & Dunlop (Grosset's Universal Library) called NOBLE ESSENCES by Osbert Sitwell. I knew of the book, because it had an extensive section about Walter Sickert, and it included a famous passage regarding Sickert talking about a lodger who was Jack the Ripper. I purchased the book, but I did not read it for nearly a decade. Then I did.

NOBLE ESSENCES is actually one of four or five volumes by Sitwell regarding his life, his family, and his friends. Sitwell, his brother
Sacheverell, and his sister Dame Edith Sitwell, were prominent in the literary and social world of 20th Century Georgian England (1911 - 1952). Edith Sitwell was a prominent poet of the day.
But she was not a great poet - one to be recalled after her death like Eliot or Pound or Yeats or Plath or...well you can add names to the list. In fact, in retrospect, the three Sitwells seemed to make a career out of being who they were, and knowing who they did know. As a result there is something faintly comical and also phony about them. This may seem unfair (it probably is to anyone of that period who recalls them) but just that. It's probably quite an accurate estimate - but I await anyone's correction.

NOBLE ESSENCES really deals with literary and artistic friends of the Sitwells. There are 12 chapters, of which ten are essays on these friends. When I read the book the only ones I recalled (from outside reading) were the novelist Arnold Bennett, and Gabriele D'Annunzio the poet and novelist (who was a proto-Fascist, and is best recalled for his seizure of Fiume in 1919 - 1920 when the port was supposed to be handed over to Yugoslavia). Subsequently I became aware of three others: Sir Edmund Gosse, Wilfred Owen, and Sickert. I did also hear of Ronald Firbank - about 1990. But Rex Whistler, Violet Gordon Woodhouse, W.H.Davies, Ada Leverson...they really petered out as figures of any great significance long ago.

Osbert Sitwell did do well with the material. He
made the characters come to life - or made their fates matter. I'm thinking in particular of Rex
Whistler, who was an artist (heavily involved in
stage work - scenery and decorative art work in terms of posters and such). In the British theatre of the 1930s - early 1940s he was very important. But he was killed in the closing weeks of World War II when he was in the British armed forces. The final statement is done straightforwardly, and hits like a ton of bricks, for Sitwell knew that the able Whistler was about to try a new experiment in his artwork...one that was never attempted as a result of his death.

I am mentioning all this because when we use a literary source (like NOBLE ESSENCES) one should experience what that source is like. When reading Sir Robert Anderson's books of memoirs, we have to remember the boasting in it, and how Winston Churchill quipped it was as of as much value as those books about "how Bill Smith won Waterloo". It is valuable to keep that in mind while thinking of his competence as a police official, and thinking about his theory (or insisting on his solution) as to the identity of Jack the Ripper.

When I finally read NOBLE ESSENCES, I was interested in the passage about the Ripper - that was natural. This is the passage [pages 211 - 213 of the GROSSET'S UNIVERSAL LIBRARY edition (New York: Grosset & Dunlop, 1950)].

"Other guests would begin now to arrive
[at Sickert's flat at Swan Walk], and, tearing himself away from the Haselden drawing out of the DAILY MIRROR, or from whatever might constitute the particular favorite of the moment, he would go greet them. Often I would meet at these breakfast parties Nina Hamnett, Alvaro Guevara, W.H.Davies and Aldous Huxley....Our host would make us sit down at the table, and would hurry round with breakfast, a plate with an egg on it for each of us. Owing to the amount of cooking, serving and pouring out that he was forced to do, he had not always at this hour so much leisure for conversation as his guests would have liked. His talk resembled most good talk in that it contained in its web certain immutable monuments that could be invoked for purposes of reference, allusion, comparison and simile, and that also supplied him with an established standard. The Tichborne Case and the mystery of Jack the Ripper constituted two such monuments.
"The first, which had come into the headlines when Sickert had been a boy of eleven, had always maintained its interest for him; a special interest, due to the fact that he believed the rejected claimant, who had come back out of the sea, to have been the rightful heir....As for the second, apart from the intrinsic and abiding horror of that extraordinary series of crimes, it interested him because he thought he knew the identity of the murderer. He told me - and, no doubt, many others - how this was...Some years after the murders, he had taken a room in a London suburb. An old couple looked after a house, wand when he had been there some months, the woman, with whom he used often to talk, asked him one day as she was dusting the room if he knew who had occupied it before him. When he said "No" she had waited a moment, and then replied, "Jack the Ripper!"...Her story was that his predecessor had been a veterinary student. After he had been a month or two in London, this delicate-looking young man - he was consumptive - took to staying out occasionally all night. His landlord and landlady would hear him come in at about six in the morning, and then walk about in his room for an hour or two until the first edition of the morning paper was on sale, when he would creep lightly downstairs and run to the corner to buy one. Quietly he would return and go to bed; but an hour later when the old man called notice, by the traces in the fireplace, that his lodger had burned the suit he had been wearing the previous evening. For the rest of the day, the millions of people in London would be discussing the terrible new murder, plainly belonging to the same series, that had been committed in the small hours. Only the student seemed never to mention it: but then, he knew no one and talked to no one, though he did not seem lonely....The old couple did not know what to make of the matter: week by week his health grew worse, and it seemed improbable that this gentel, ailing, silent youth should be responsible for such crimes. They could hardly credit their own senses - and then, before they could make up their minds whether to warn the police or not, the lodger's health had suddenly failed alarmingly, and his mother - a widow who was devoted to him - had come to fetch him back to Bournemouth, where she lived....From that moment the murders had stopped....He died three months later.
Before leaving the subject, I may add that, while I was engaged in writing this account of Sickert, my brother reminded me that the painter had told us that when his landlady had confided in him that morning, in the course of her dusting, the name of Jack the Ripperm he had scribbled it down in pencil on the margin of a French edition of Casanova's Memoirs which he happened to be reading at the time, and that subsequently he had given the book away - we thought he had said to Sir William Rothentein. Sickert had added, "And there it will be now, f you want to know the name." Accordingly, I wrote to Lady Rothenstein: but neither she nor Sir William remembered the book. On my consulting Mrs. Sickert, she maintained that her husband had told her that he had given the volume to Sir William's brother, Mr.Albert Rutherston. And this proved to have been the case. My friend Mr. Rutherston informed that he lost the book only during the bombing of London, and that thre had been several pencil notes entered in the margin, in Sickert's handwriting, always so difficult to decipher."

It is a very interesting passage. When I read it I tried to compare it to the stories about Sickert and Prince Eddy's secret marriage, and the possibility that Joseph Sickert was a grandson of Eddy (as well as Sickert's son), and that the Whitechapel Murders were actually to cover up Eddy's sexual mistake. The two stories
seemed to demolish each other. Of course, I did not know in 1993 (when I read the book) that Joseph Sickert's story would slowly be ripped apart (though he would claim it was never handled properly by researchers or writers like Stephen Knight). Now we have Ms Cornwall, determined to make Sickert more than a peripheral figure.

What I now notice about the Sitwell account is that it is incomplete despite my typing it verbatim from the book. Did you notice those ellipsis marks? They are part of the passage as it appears. Were they done deliberately by Sitwell (like the French novelist Celine)to mirror the slow, effortless attempt of imitating a conversational flow of words....Possibly. But I wonder if the actual manuscript of that portion of the chapter had sentences of phrases in it that reveal more than Sitwell was willing to print in 1950. After all, it was only sixty two years since the autumn of terror, and the family members (siblings?) might still be alive. Look how long it took for the name of Montague Druitt to become known to the public, in comparison to this. Or Ostrog, Kosminski, and Tumblety.

Also, how much research into the passage was done?
I have not read the Cornwall book, so I don't know how she handles this. Did she try to look into the knowledge of Albert Rutherston, and his brother Sir William Rothenstein? How about their friend, Max Beerbohm - I recall that some historian of Whitechapel (Tom Cullen, possibly) said a note by Beerbohm showed he heard this lodger story from Sickert. Beerbohm (by the way)
is curious for another reason. Besides being a graceful essayist and satirist, he was a cartoonist - and his pictures of Sickert are not very flattering. Sickert always seems to be a sinister figure hovering on the edge of a crowd. Anyway, that is how his image by the incomparable Max seems to me. Did Max have an insight that does not pop up in Sitwell? Maybe.

Also, notice that in the full passage there is an interesting bit about the Tichborne Claimant case being a subject that Sickert talked about (and apparently swallowed totally - he believed Tom Castro/Arthur Orton's story). Sickert was interested in other crimes besides Whitechapel.
This is even of a piece of his doing that series of pictures of the Camden Town Murder in 1907.

Sickert was not the only person interested in crimes, and dining out talking about them. The great barrister Marshall Hall loved to discuss his cases, and even cases that he was not involved in (one choice dinner topic: how he could have saved Dr. Crippen if he defended him!).
Hall also talked about Jack the Ripper, Neill Cream (he created the story of Cream and a doppelganger giving each other alibis for their crimes, including Whitechapel), and Deeming.

I can't comment yet on Chris's latest fascinating discovery about the Lodger story. But at least now we can consider more fully what the original account by Sickert was like.

Best wishes,

Jeff.... :-)
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Mark Starr
Unregistered guest
Posted on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 5:26 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi Jeffrey Bloomfield:

And some have said that MY posts run on too long!

The material on Sickert lodger story in Sitwell's Noble Essences has been posted in Casebook before, in the thread on Sickert and Sitwell, and I have written about it at length. No matter, for it is a key piece of evidence -- and your post gives me an excuse to post a few more comments.

The essential importance of Sickert's lodger story, as recounted by Sitwell, is that every word is a lie -- a deliberate lie conconcted by Sickert to provide cover for his various RIpper-related activities and his Ripper obsession. I have written many posts examining the internal evidence in Sitwell's account that leads inexorably to this conclusion. Anyone who doubts this conclusion must also confront a virtually impossible challenge inadvertently raised by Cornwell's evidence about the Ripper letters.

I think it is fair to say that, for the most part, even the most vocal detractors of Cornwell's book have conceded that she has convincingly demonstrated that Walter Sickert wrote at least one of the Ripper letters. While this link does not prove that Walter Sickert was Jack The Ripper, it does establish that Walter Sickert had an unusually intense interest in The Whitechapel Murders in 1888. WHen someone writes a Ripper Letter in the middle of the Whitechapel Murders and sends it to a public official, we are no longer talking about typical public interest in a muder case. Whatever Sickert's motives may have been for sending at least one Ripper letter -- and perhaps many of them, they were certainly not normal or innocuous.

That said, let's jump now to 1906 when Sickert was living in a rooming house in Camden Town, a suburb of London. It was then that Sickert supposedly learned from his landlady that the previous occupant of his room had been Jack The RIpper.

Before 1906, several lodger stories had already appeared in print. There was a rumored Lodger in Batty Street -- which is close by one of the murder scenes. This was reported in the Daily News in 1888. Then there was the Lodger story by Forbes Winslow, reported in the New York Herald in 1889, which identified a mysterious lodger named G. Wentworth Bell Smith. And lastly, if you read through the sensational new material from the Port Philip Herald recently posted by Chris Scott in the Lodger Section, there was a third Lodger account, this one first published in The People, a Conservative London paper, in 1890. One thing is crystal clear about all three of these lodger accounts. None of them match Walter Sickert's account, as reported by Sitwell.

Another event occurred around 1906 that is highly relevant. Walter Sickert painted "Jack The RIpper's Bedroom." As Rosey saw with her own eyes, the title of the painting is written in pencil on the back of the canvas. This painting is extremely dark and vague, even by Sickert's sombre standards. It has taken me hours of staring at poor quality copies of this painting, using enlargements and brightness enhancements -- but I think I have identified some of the contents of the room. Behind the bed, there is a low desk with a three-legged stool. Placed on the stool is a large black leather bag, closed and filled with stuff. One can make out the round carrying handles at the top of the bag. On top of the desk is a covered bird-cage. There are some vague brightly colored shapes next to the cage that suggest birds -- but they are too nebulous to make out definitely. Behind the desk in front of the window is a clothes-tree, with a man's tailcoat hung upon it. The coat is hanging in front of a partly opened window.

What do these objects mean? In one of his essays on art, Sickert stated that every good painting tells a story, and the degree to which the painting is good is the degree to which the artist successfully communicates the story to the viewer. The meaning of this painting might have remained shrouded in darkness if it were not for Sickert's conversation with Osbert Sitwell perhaps three decades later (I am guessing when their meeting took place because Sitwell did not date it, at least not in the excerpt I read.)

As I see this painting, entitled Jack The Ripper's Bedroom, the only explanation for the leather bag is that this was Jack's Gladstone Bag, tossed on the stool after a night of slaughter. (BTW, the time of the scene is clearly morning, shown by the light coming through the Venetian Blinds.) The birdcage is evidence that the roomer was a veterinary student. And if the brightly colored shapes are really birds, the implication is that Jack used these birds for his studies of avian anatomy. And finally, the tailcoat is hung next to the open window to dry out -- possible from sweat, from alcohol and from blood. In other words, the scene in this painting matches perfectly the story that Sickert told Sitwell around three decades later.

OK, what's wrong with that? What's wrong is: Sickert's story must be a lie. Sickert's story differs from all of the previous lodger stories because Sickert was not merely the narrator of this story, he was an actual participant. By a remarkable stroke of fate, Sickert would have us believe, he happened to rent a room that had previously been occupied by Jack Ripper -- or so the landlady said. The chances of this happening to anyone are of course infinitessimally small. He says the landlady told him the name of the veterinary student, that he wrote it down in a book, which he gave to another painter. That strains credulity even more. Before the book disappeared in the blitz, the wife of the recipient said she noticed Sickert's scribblings in the margin, but they were illegible. That raises even more doubts. Neither Sickert nor the landlady ever went to the police or to the press with this information. That strains credulity even more. Sickert said he no longer remembered the name of the veterinary student who was Jack The RIpper -- although he had no problem recalling numerous minute details in his story. That strains credulity even more. And he explains to Sitwell: that is the reason why he has been so interested in Jack The Ripper all these years -- because he slept in Jack's Bedroom.

And that, dear friends, is where the dike of credulity gives way. Because when Walter Sickert told Sitwell that his interest in Jack The Ripper was a result of his experience in 1906 of occupying the same bedroom in which Jack The RIpper had previously slept, he could not have known that in 2002 Patrica Cornwell would convincingly demonstrate that Walter Sickert had written at least one of the RIpper letters in 1888. In sum, the story of the veterinary student from Bornemouth who died from consumption after the Whitechapel Murders is a story that Sickert concocted, first in the painting Jack The RIpper's Bedroom, and later in the tale he told Sitwell and, according to Sitwell, other friends as well. And we know this story is a lie because researchers from Ripper Notes attempted to track down every student of veterinary medecine in London during the Whitechapel Murders -- but none matched the details in Sickert's story.

Sickert's story is based on a quirk of fate, that somehow he rented a bedroom that once belonged to Jack The RIpper. The chances of that happening are so small as to make Sickert's story unbelievable. But the fact that Sickert had already become a direct participant in the case 18 years earlier by writing at least one Ripper letter changes this quirk of fate into demonstrable fraud. The coincidence that he landed by chance in Jack's bed is not merely unbelievable, it is a lie.

Why Sickert concoted this fraudulent story, and what he hoped to accomplish with it, will have to wait for another day.

Regards,
Mark Starr
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Marissa
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Posted on Thursday, February 26, 2004 - 10:39 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hey. I am back yet again. LOL

I have read all the new posts about this. Thank you all for posting again.

I went back through the Cornwell book last night because Chris Michetti here at the boards has talked about the French book with photos of the victims. So I wanted to get more facts on that because I rememebered reading something about that before.

In one post Chris Michetti said "Well, she claimed that he had to be the Ripper because of the dead women he painted in his works. Some of his paintings of the victims were very much like the actual crime scene photographs. She claimed that only the killer would know what to paint because nobody had seen certain things that he painted; when in fact he had seen the pictures in a french book that Cornwell never knew about."

But according to Cornwell's book in chapter 11 titled Summer Nights on page 115 of my book, it says in the last paragraph that she DID know about this French book that people are saying that he saw and then painted the victims, titled Vacher l'Eventreur et les crimes sadiques, translated means basically a book on sadisitic crimes (Lyon, A. Storck).

She also goes on to state: "In that book, there are two photographs of Ripper victims: Mary Kelly and her crime scene and a mortuary photograph (of poor quality) of Catherine Eddows from the knees up, after her autopsy, when her postmordem incision and abdominal and neck injuries would not have been visible because they had been sutured. While it is possible that Sickert might have obtained Lacassagne's work and seen these two photographs of other Ripper victims, such as Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, or Martha Tabran. Nor does it include the most graphic photograph of Catherine Eddows, the one taken before her autopsy, her head lolling back, the gaping and fatal wound to her neck grostesquely displayed. If Sickert's sketch of the so-called Venetian woman is indeed a representation of Mary Ann Nichols's staring dead face, then he might well have been at the scene or somehow got hold of the police reports. Even is Sickert had seen Mary Ann at the mortuary, her eyes would have been shut by then, just as they were in her photograph. By the time she was photographed and viewed bu those who might identify her and by the inquest jurors, her wounds would have been sutured and her body had been covered to the chin to hide the gaping cuts to the throat."

So that is one fact that is correct. She acknowledged that he could have seen them in this book.

I agree with Paul Jackson's last post so far.

He said:

"I am by no means saying that Sickert was the Ripper, but, he is as good a suspect as any of the others. Cornwell's book was a very entertaining read even though she did seem to propose scenarios that were plausible in her own mind. She liked to use "there wasn't any direct
evidence to suggest that Sickert did this and that, but there was no evidence to suggest he didn't." She did read a great deal into his paintings though. And he probably did author a few ripper letters...that doesnt mean he's the Ripper......But it doesnt mean he's not either.
Just a thought."

If Cornwell did make stuff up or alter facts to fit her case, fine. But some things about it that are facts, DO fit with Sickert being the possible Ripper.

By the way, people here do seem to agree that Sickert may have written some of the Ripper letters. Once again, what in the world is that all about? This is one man that was seriously messed up whether he really was the Ripper or not. That would be like one of us writing letters pretending to be part of the Charles Manson family , a helper of Jeffery Dahmer , or Hannibal the Cannibal's apprentice.

Thanks again!

,
Marissa


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Chris Michetti
Sergeant
Username: Pl4tinum

Post Number: 32
Registered: 2-2004
Posted on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 2:48 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Marissa,

I stand corrected. I haven't read her book myself, and was hoping someone would clear that up for me as well.

Mark,

Very interesting. I like your theory. I have one question... was Sickert 5'7"?
Chris
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Mark Starr
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Posted on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 2:03 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Marissa:

Bravo for taking the trouble to check out the accuracy and veracity of some of the shotgun blasts in this thread against Cornwell's book.

When people charge Cornwell with making up facts, they had better be prepared to document their charges -- or make themselves look foolish. Making up facts means fabricating evidence, knowingly inventing facts and providing false citations. Fabricating evidence does not include expressing personal opinions or making theories to explain evidence. Every writer must do exactly that in order to place facts into context.

I have said many times, and I will say again, I never had the slightest difficulty in distinguishing between the facts on one hand and the opinions and theories other the other hand in Cornwell's book, or in anybody else's books either. Every writer assumes that his readers have the modicum of intelligence and judgement necessary to distinguish between the two without printing the facts in green ink, and the opinions and theories in red ink. But evidently, in the cases of some on this thread who protest that Cornwell made up her facts, he/she might be giving them too much credit.

Regards,
Mark Starr
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Neil K. MacMillan
Detective Sergeant
Username: Wordsmith

Post Number: 75
Registered: 3-2003
Posted on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 3:53 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Mark:
As I stated, I will have to re-read Ms. Cornwell's book. I do Have a few questions If I might pick your brain and those of the rest of our fellow hunters.
1- I don't remember Ms. Cornwell mentioning Joseph Sickert at all in her book. Can anyone state definately if he was(Is) Walter Sickert's son? The impression I had fron "Case Closed" was that Walter's purile fistula left him sterile or rather, the resulting multiple surgeries did. Obviously if Joseph is his son, he was not sterile or Joeseph was adopted.
2- How tall was Sickert? And could you refresh my memory as to his basic discription?
3- I think I asked in the post on Cornwell's book about the location of the flats and studios.

Just a few things that cropped up reading your posts. Thanks for indulging my curiosity. Kindest regards, Neil
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Wolf Vanderlinden
Detective Sergeant
Username: Wolf

Post Number: 65
Registered: 3-2003
Posted on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 5:21 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Marissa.

The paragraph that you quote where Patricia Cornwell discusses Alexandre Lacassagne's book Vacher l'Úventreur et les crimes sadiques comes from the paperback edition of her book. This information was not included in the first edition because Cornwell had no idea that this book even existed. Sickert paintings and their link to the Lacassagne book were first made in my article The Art of Murder which was published in the July 2002 issue of Ripper Notes.

Cornwell correctly states that the Lacassagne book only has photographs of two of the Ripper's victims, Catherine Eddowes and Mary Kelly, and none of the other victims. What she hasn't done is prove that Sickert did any paintings, drawings or sketches of any victims besides Eddowes and Kelly. She does make the laughable claim that a sketch titled Venetian Studies is actually of Polly Nichols based on the implausible observation that the woman in the sketch has her eyes open. This is what passes for credible proof in the eyes of the credulous.

Wolf.
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Paul Jackson
Sergeant
Username: Paulj

Post Number: 16
Registered: 2-2004
Posted on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 5:50 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Hi everyone,

To address Chris and Neil question regarding the appearance of Sickert, apparently he was about
5'7 or 5'8, medium build, dark hair, sometimes facial hair, other times clean shaven, dark complexion, good looking guy. Thats a vague description, but its all i could dig up.

Paul
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Mark Starr
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Posted on Friday, February 27, 2004 - 4:47 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Chris,

I don't know Sickert's height, but here is a full length photo of him taken two years before he died. Your guess is as good as mine. That is his wife Therese far in the background.

Regards,
Mark Starr

Walter Sickert in 1940

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