Jack The Ripper: Our Obsession With Serial Killers

I’m currently having a bit of a Jack the Ripper phase. Despite previously knowing very little about the grisly east end murders of 1888, now – I confess – I’m hooked. Tempted as I am to try my hand at a bit of armchair detective work, I am actually more interested in why myself and most people are fascinated with serial killers, rather than actually who Jack the Ripper was. After all, if I told you that the Ripper was ‘Joe Bloggs’, a 43 year old butcher who lived in Whitechapel, would that really satisfy your curiosity? Would the ‘who’ without the ‘why’ bring us any sort of closure?

Just to clarify, I’m pretty sure there was no 43 year old butcher in the Whitechapel area called Joe Bloggs at the time of the murders. If there was, then it looks like I’ve found a new and lucrative career as a psychic. 

A contemporary engraving depicting the discovery of a Ripper victim.

A contemporary engraving depicting the discovery of a Ripper victim.

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Sainsbury’s Christmas Ad Exploits The Great War

I’m anticipating a fair amount of backlash here, but this is something I feel strongly about and am keen to express.

I don’t like the Sainsbury’s Christmas advert. 

There, I said it.

It left me feeling deeply uncomfortable and disappointed, for three reasons.

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My Great Grandpa In The Great War

My great grandpa, Norman George Dale, was born on 7th March 1896 to Frederick Dale, a farmer, and his wife Martha. He was one of ten children, three sisters and seven brothers and the family lived happily at Oxheys Farm in Cheshire.

When the war broke out in 1914, two brothers, Harry and Fred, stayed at home to maintain the family farm; even when conscription was introduced in 1916 they was exempt from service as a result of their occupation.

The remaining brothers Sidney, Walter (32), Albert (23), Frank (21) and Norman (18) all fought in the war. While Norman was technically too young to serve overseas – the minimum age for this being nineteen – he lied about his age so he could fight beside Frank, as the two youngest brothers were inseparable.  Walter, Albert, Frank and Norman all joined the Manchester Regiment; Albert in the 22nd Battalion, Walter in the 2nd/5th and Frank and Norman in the 2nd/6th.

Norman George Dale

Norman George Dale

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New College, Oxford In World War One

I was on Facebook today and came across a post from my old university college. Unbeknown to me, it turns out that New College, Oxford actually looked after convalescent servicemen and septicemia cases during the Great War. These men were sent to the college from the military hospital that had been established in the Examinations School on the High Street (where my Historian friends and I sat our dreaded Finals exams).

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One Of My Favourite Love Letters From The Great War

This is one of  my favourite love letters from the First World War. Its author is one George Hayman, a private in the Lancashire Fusiliers, and he wrote it to his wife shortly before he left for France in June 1916.

The letter, as you can see, is written in the shape of a kiss and also contains drawings George made himself of his young family. In one part he writes “I only wish I could be home with you, still never mind this war will soon be over now. Then we will have a jolly good time” and he signs off “from your loving boy, George xxxx”. The innocence and obvious adoration George felt for his wife and their child is so lovely – making it all the more heartbreaking that George died in combat two months later.

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5 Facts You Might Not Know About Bonfire Night

It feels a bit odd when we talk about ‘celebrating’ Bonfire Night, not least because rejoicing in our government’s ability to ‘repel the Catholic threat’ feels just a tad outdated.

But, regardless of all that, I still wanted to ‘celebrate’ Bonfire Night history-nerd style, so here is a list of five things you (hopefully) don’t already know about the events of the 5th November…

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