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Autobiography of Jack the Ripper: In His Own Words, The Confession of the World's Most Infamous Killer

Autobiography of Jack the Ripper: In His Own Words, The Confession of the World's Most Infamous Killer

3.7 3
by James Carnac

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"It's either a genuine confession by Jack the Ripper, or it's an extraordinary novel...Only you can decide."—Paul Begg, author of Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History

In the Whitechapel neighborhood of London in 1888, five women were horribly mutilated and murdered by the infamous killer, Jack the Ripper. Though there were many


"It's either a genuine confession by Jack the Ripper, or it's an extraordinary novel...Only you can decide."—Paul Begg, author of Jack the Ripper: The Definitive History

In the Whitechapel neighborhood of London in 1888, five women were horribly mutilated and murdered by the infamous killer, Jack the Ripper. Though there were many suspects, the monster was never caught.

This recently discovered memoir from the 1920s introduces a new suspect: James Willoughby Carnac, a little-known figure who claims to have been the Ripper. Carnac describes the events and geography of Whitechapel in 1888 with chilling accuracy, including details of the murders that appear to have been unavailable to the public at the time. He presents a credible motive for becoming Jack, and, for the first time ever, a reason for ending the killing spree. Ultimately, you, the reader, must decide if this is simply one of the earliest imaginings of the case—and a groundbreaking literary addition to the Ripper canon—or if it is the genuine autobiography of Jack the Ripper himself.

"A text that will no doubt be debated for years to come."—Alan Hicken, Montacute Museum, Somerset, England

"Intricate and creepy."—The Daily Express (UK)

"Easily read and worth it for the ending."—Kirkus

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Is the memoir purporting to be the confessions of the notorious serial killer actually that, or just a hoax? Most readers will be naturally skeptical of this account (slated to be published on the 125th anniversary of the crimes) from former medical student and soi-disant murderer James Willoughby Carnac—especially given the literary tone of much of “the Ripper’s” recollections: “The windows were in absolute darkness, but the brick-work seemed to glisten, not only with the rain beating upon it but with a kind of inherent phosphorescence....” Carnac traces his path to infamy from his childhood, when he’s traumatized by the murder of his mother by his father, who then turns the fatal knife on himself. He discusses his compulsion to kill, attributing it to his ancestral line of French executioners. The discoverer of the manuscript—bizarrely, a writer of plays for children who came into possession of the document in 2008—states that he “removed and destroyed certain portions” because of their “revolting” details, which most will conclude refer to the Ripper’s horrific mutilations; if this is true, the manuscript was robbed of precisely those facts that only the real killer would have known. In an appendix, Ripper expert Paul Begg does a good job of addressing and countering problems raised by the account, but in the end, it could be taken for simply a clever work of historical fiction. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"A fascinating read! I couldn't put it down! Each reader must decide on their own - is this truly The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper." - dbettenson

"The Ripper's story and his obsession with knives and blood make for interesting reading, as it deals with the man and his stalkings more than his atrocious acts...Fiction or not, a decent book, easily read and worth it for the ending. " - Kirkus

"The way the plots are intertwined in the book, the way the narrative traces the genealogy of this criminal and the way it portrays the heady mixture of cold violence inside and lust for blood makes this book worth reading by every book lover. It does not really matter whether it is another Ripperature or a genuine story of Jack the Ripper, what is more important is the racy, teasing and explosive details it offers. I foresee floodgates of inquisitiveness and debates as soon as this book hits the market." - BookPleasures.com

"A definite must read if you have wondered who Jack the Ripper was, or wanted more information. A well written and very compelling." - My Book Addiction Reviews

A very interesting addition to the canon of Jack the Ripper literature or "Ripperture" as it were. I would definitely suggest this book if you are looking for something with a little bit of scariness and a bunch of intrigue.

"Even if it's merely a cleverly-written novel ("Ripperature" ), the book is well done. And if there's a remote, outside chance that it's a real account by the gruesome killer, the thought is enough to cause nightmares while reading it." - Valerie Talks Books

It is up to you as the reader of course to decide if they believe this original manuscript, The Autobiography of Jack the Ripper, to be true or not. Has the greatest cold case in history finally been cracked? We will never truly know.

Carnac (no affiliation given, because he's supposed to be the Ripper) recounts the story of a childhood marked by the signs that he was going to become the Ripper, at the time of the murders. He apparently was sane enough to remember in gory detail the five murders, and the few weeks in which he anxiously searched the streets for his victims. The descriptions of the murders cross closely with what is now known of them; the Ripper then has the presence of mind to disappear and leave the autobiography, with which he was engaged at the time, behind him.

Kirkus Reviews
James Willoughby Carnac admits in his autobiography that he is Jack the Ripper; but it is the curator of the Montacute TV, Radio, and Toy Museum in Somerset, Alan Hicken, who has brought the book to light. Hicken acquired the manuscript in a bundle of memorabilia from the family of S.G. Hulme-Beaman, creator of a popular British children's cartoon character, Larry the Lamb. Hulme-Beaman was Carnac's executor and apparently was unable to publish the manuscript per Carnac's wishes, even after expunging the lurid evisceration descriptions. The story here is accompanied by a lengthy, almost line-by-line analysis by journalist and noted Ripper-ologist Paul Begg (Jack the Ripper: The Facts, 2005, etc.). The analysis is repetitive, tedious and unnecessary; readers can decide for themselves on the believability of this tale. The Ripper's story, and his obsession with knives and blood, make for interesting reading, as it deals with the man and his stalkings more than his atrocious acts. Whoever wrote it seems to understand the mind of this killer, certainly a madman, who murdered solely for the love of killing. His parents' murders/suicides seem to be the beginning of his bloodlust, and his desire to cut flesh naturally followed. The six Whitechapel murders committed in 1888 began and ended with no cause, no clues and no conviction. Here is the man who admitted to hearing voices and had a vision of a man who assured him he'd never be caught. The bizarre dream of his ancestors as hangmen and torturers lining the streets of London show a man possessed. Throughout the book, as he insists on his obsession with knives cutting flesh, readers may wonder why he didn't become a coroner or an anatomy teacher, dissecting bodies all day long. Also included are facsimiles of the original manuscript and some brief information on the victims. Fiction or not, a decent book, easily read and worth it for the ending.

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Read an Excerpt


When a man has attained to any degree of note or notoriety, he becomes afflicted by the itch to write his autobiography. I question whether the months of labour involved in carrying out such a task are often justified by the result, unless we regard as that result the mere satisfaction achieved by the autobiographer in writing continuously about himself to the extent of some seventy thousand words. So few of these autobiographers have anything of interest to say apart from the more or less technical interest attached to the narration of the steps and line of conduct which led the subject to eminence.

It is true that certain autobiographers may mildly amuse us by retailing the witty thing Sir Herbert Tree-or some such famous person-said to the autobiographer, and so forth; or it may pander to our love of scandal by vilifying the autobiographer's contemporaries. But, on the whole, I feel that the frame of mind in which the autobiographer sets about his thankless task is the frame of mind in which the club bore button-holes me and tells me of the wonderful things he has done, the witty things he has said and what a clever fellow I must understand him to be.

Why then am I setting to work, at the age of nearly sixty-nine, to write my autobiography? Mainly, I think, because I have been nursing an exciting secret for forty years; I have had to guard that secret during my lifetime but there is a certain satisfaction in feeling that I can arrange for its disclosure after my death. And there have been so many speculations regarding the identity and motives of Jack the Ripper that I feel it to be almost a duty finally and definitely to put those questions to rest. And I may also be influenced by another matter. In several of the numerous articles which have appeared from time to time Jack the Ripper has been dogmatically described as a homicidal maniac; this statement has been made so often, in fact, that its truth seems now to be almost universally assumed. I recently observed an article in a popular encyclopaedia which refers to: "Jack the Ripper, a homicidal maniac who..." etc. It may be that I grow touchy as the years increase, but I must admit that statements of this nature tend to irritate me.

The fact of this matter is that the writers of articles on Jack the Ripper-and I have heard that a story about him need never remain unsold-have either too much imagination or no imagination at all. In the former category are those who weave theories of extraordinary ingenuity; in the second are those who, being unable to apprehend any human actions which depart from their own standard of smug normality, fall back upon the old phrase-a homicidal maniac.

Forty years have elapsed since a mention of Jack the Ripper was sufficient to cause a shudder, not only in the East End of London, but in all parts of this country. A shudder based not altogether upon a horror of murder-as it is technically called-for many murders have been committed which have aroused no more than a rather pleasant excitement; but based more upon a shrinking awe of the unknown. For J.R. was not only a killer; he was a mysterious and bizarre killer, and in his efficiency (though I say it myself), his ubiquity and yet his uncanny invisibility, he appeared to the popular imagination to embody in his unseen personality the attributes of a ghoul. From my own recollection of the period I am able to say that, incredible as it may now seem, J.R. was actually regarded as a supernatural being by the less enlightened members of the community.

Now when a personality takes on this apocryphal aspect it is very difficult for the ordinary unimaginative person to conceive of him as a human man who was born, eats, loves and laces his boots. He cannot realize that that being has his thoughts and feelings and his own personal perception of the universe; being incomprehensible, the unknown must be a maniac.

And so it may come as a surprise to some that J.R. was a human man and that what he did was due to reactions which simply differed in some respects from the reactions of his fellows.


I need hardly say that my name is not Jack. I have given some thought to the question whether I should disclose my name at once or reserve it as a bonne bouche for the end of the record. But I have decided, mainly by the thought that I may never live to complete the work, to enjoy in imagination the sensation which the early mention of my name will afford to my associates. My name is James Willoughby Carnac.

"What, our Carnac!" I can hear old So-and-so saying at the club. "It can't be!" And then he will scrabble over the pages until he perceives my portrait (which I hope will be reproduced in the book). "Why it is!" he will cry. "But it can't be! This is a joke. Why, I have sat opposite Carnac in this smoking-room every day for years!"

But I assure you, my dear old friend So-and-so (I feel it would be unfair to specify your name and so fling your body to the reporters), that it is no joke. At least, not the kind of joke you have in mind. You may hardly be able to credit it at first, perhaps because you have read that J.R. was a homicidal maniac, and old Carnac was obviously sane. Why, he could play bridge! But, leaving out this question of lunacy, surely you must realize that J.R. did actually exist? That he met people; sat next to them in trams and theatres; bought things in shops. And he became prominent only forty years ago, you know. What possible reason can you have for assuming that he did not live out his three score years and ten? People do; you are no spring chicken yourself, my dear So-and-so, if you will forgive my mentioning it.

When you have read this account and discovered that it contains nothing incongruous nor, in fact, anything you cannot yourself confirm with a little trouble, will you, I wonder, feel horrified? No; I suspect your sensation will be pride. You have had the extraordinary privilege of talking almost daily to J.R. for nearly fifteen years without knowing it; what a topic of conversation is now presented to you!

I think, by the way, I should enclose with my manuscript a request that the six complimentary copies, which I understand are usually presented to an author by his publisher, be sent to the club. Otherwise my autobiography may never penetrate to that backwater.


Since this autobiography will not be published until after my death I can allow myself entire freedom in writing, bearing in mind, however, that convention has set certain bounds upon what is permissible. This book is not intended to be read aloud to the family circle, but on the other hand I do not want it impounded by the police. But although I may have to touch delicately upon one or two matters, there is this point: I have no relatives and no one need suffer, therefore, as a result of the obloquy which (society being constituted as it is) will attach to my name. And I have been careful not to refer by name to any person who is, to my knowledge, at present living.

As regards the ultimate publication of the manuscript: this has cost me much thought. But I am not without resource and a little ingenuity will, I think, overcome the difficulty. After all, there are such things as literary agents, and if my executor does not get involved over some difficulty with probate I see no reason why the plan which I have dimly evolved should not be successful. At least the manuscript should get as far as a publisher's office if my executor honourably fulfills my instructions and does not allow curiosity as to what it is he is dealing with to master him. As to any profits arising from publication, these must go with my other assets which, having no relatives, I am leaving to a charitable institution connected with animals. At least that has been my intention; but recently it has occurred to me to alter my will and to leave everything to the Police Orphanage. The idea rather appeals to me.


Before closing this somewhat rambling preface it is necessary for me to say a few words regarding conversations in this book. Truthfully to reproduce these verbatim after a lapse of forty or fifty years is obviously impossible; but a book devoid of conversational matter is, to my mind, dull; it lacks anything approaching vividness. The conversations here are therefore "reconstructed," being based upon the gist of the matter spoken of and clothed in the characteristic dictions of the people concerned as I recall them. In some special instances, however, the words actually used have remained fixed in my memory despite the passage of years; Mrs. Nicholl's remarks about her canary, for example. And when I mention Martha Tabron's ejaculation of "Oo Gawd!" which she managed to utter through my clenched fingers when the light caught the blade of my knife, I am reporting actual fact. She said exactly that, no less and-no more.


And a last word to the general reader. This is not put forward as a work of literature, but simply as a record of the main incidents of my early life. I make no pretence to any literary ability, and skilled writers are not made at the age of sixty-nine.

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Autobiography of Jack the Ripper: In His Own Words, The Confession of the World's Most Infamous Killer 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
MyBookAddictionandMore More than 1 year ago
THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JACK THE RIPPER: IN HIS OWN WORDS,THE CONFESSIONS OF THE WORLD'S MOST INFAMOUS KILLER by James Carnac is an intriguing Non-Fiction/True Crime. The world has always wondered who is Jack the Ripper,the most famous killer in London. He mutilated five women in the Whitechapel neighborhood in 1888 London. This is a memoir form a 1920 suspect: James Willoughby Carnac, he claims to be the famous Jack the Ripper. He does know many things about the murder never told to the public. Written in first person, told through a lost manuscript,journals,and letters. A very compelling story that leaves you with another question, is this story fact or fiction? Was James Carnac, a true serial killer,or a wanna be? This story also gives us the reason to why the murders suddenly stop,if you believe James' version and his story. So you are left with... is this really the Ripper or not. You must decide! A rather creepy story,which people have debated for years who,Jack the Ripper really was,why the murders,and why mutilate the bodies. This could just be the confession of Jack the Ripper! A definite must read if you have wondered who Jack the Ripper was, or wanted more information. A well written and very compelling,although a bit creepy. Received for an honest review from the publisher. RATING: 4 HEAT RATING: MILD REVIEWED BY: AprilR, Review courtesy of My Book Addiction and More
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Definitely worth $1.99 on the nook!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago