Jack the Ripper, the name given to an unidentified late-19th-century murderer in London, England. From Aug. to Nov., 1888, he was responsible for the death and mutilation of female prostitutes in the East End section of London. The victims had their throats slashed and their bodies mutilated in ways that revealed substantial physiological knowledge, perhaps medical training. Panic ensued, and the inability of the police to stop the crimes, coupled with the authorities' receipt of taunting letters signed Jack the Ripper, brought on scandal and eventual reforms.
Mary Ann Nichols, nicknamed "Polly," killed Friday 31 August 1888.
Annie Chapman, maiden name Eliza Ann Smith, nicknamed "Dark Annie," killed Saturday 8 September 1888.
Elizabeth Stride, nicknamed "Long Liz," killed Sunday 30 September 1888.
Catherine Eddowes,also known as "Kate Conway" and "Mary Ann Kelly," killed Sunday 30 September 1888 (the same day as the previous victim, Elizabeth Stride).
Mary Jane Kelly, called herself "Marie Jeanette Kelly" after a trip to Paris, nicknamed "Ginger," killed Friday 9 November 1888.
There are more victims attributed to Jack the Ripper. Two before the previous, four after. There are also claims of more victims. However, the five listed above are the only absolutes.
The murders ended as suddenly as they had begun; one school of thought is that a Russian sailor, the killer, left London. Over the years the killings have been ascribed to such varied persons as a doctor, a woman, a man in woman's clothing, a well-known painter, or a member of the nobility or even the royal family. The crimes have given rise to many novels, plays, and other dramatic works.