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  • A Jack the Ripper Urban Legend September 22, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    A Jack the Ripper Urban Legend

    4 Aug 1941 (barely a month into Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union) this ‘funny story’ appeared in a London newspaper. Perhaps we should think of it as a bit of nostalgia from the times when knives not Nazi bombs were the most dangerous thing in the East End. During the scare caused by Jack […]

    The Origins of Jill the Ripper September 16, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Origins of Jill the Ripper

    There has long been a minority opinion that Jack the Ripper was a woman: the so-called ‘Jill the Ripper theory’. It is often said that the theory begins with William Douglas Steward, Jack The Ripper: A New Theory in 1939. Steward established to his own satisfaction, that Jill was a deranged midwife. But Steward was […]

    19C London Fairies and Murder November 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    19C London Fairies and Murder

    Beach has long considered himself duty bound to investigate all references to fairies, however strange and however obscene, and there have been, for a while, two references to London fairies that have irritated him because he can’t track them down: or at least he can follow them only into unattractive cul-de-sacs. First, from Carol Silver’s […]

    The Ripper and Thieves’ Candles November 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Ripper and Thieves' Candles

    The thieves’ candle is a longstanding tradition in Britain, America and, indeed, throughout the western world. Usually the candle was the hand of a dead man with one or more of the fingers made into candles. These candles were supposed to provide safety, invisiblity and be able to cast sleep spells on victims. For example, […]

    Review: Shadow Pasts April 5, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: Shadow Pasts

    Beachcombing has only a few minutes today before class begins – a spring cold has meant that he is sleeping double his regulation five or six hours. But he wants to take what little time he has to celebrate William Rubinstein’s Shadow Pasts: ‘Amateur Historians’ and History’s Mysteries (2007), a gem of a book he […]

    Baron Munchhausen and Jack the Ripper September 21, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Baron Munchhausen and Jack the Ripper

    Beachcombing has long had a secret nemesis: Donald McCormick aka Richard Deacon, a British author. McCormick (1911-1998) wrote entertainingly on a bewildering series of topics including the Hell Fire Club, Mossad, Ian Fleming, the Kempa Tai and the death of Kitchener. Many of these books included doubtful elements: extremely valuable sources that no one else had ever […]