Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Doubts over Ripper 'memoirs' find

Manuscript extract
An extract of the manuscript said to be written by 'James Carnac', detailing the murder of Catherine Eddowes on 30 September, 1888

An autobiography claiming to be the memoirs of Jack the Ripper has been unearthed at a Somerset museum.

Experts said the book, written by a James Carnac, is almost certainly a fake but is in places "very accurate" and the earliest work of its kind.

It was discovered amongst the effects of a children's entertainer, handed to Montacute TV Radio and Toy Museum.

It is thought Jack the Ripper killed and mutilated at least five prostitutes in London's East End in 1888.

The book, thought to have been written in the 1920s, is typewritten and bound with a cardboard cover entitled 'The Autobiography of James Carnac'.

The author dedicated it "with admiration and respect to the retired members of the Metropolitan Police Force in spite of whose energy and efficiency I have lived to write this book".

'Macabre humour'

He apparently left his 'memoirs' to SG Hulme Beaman, creator of BBC children's character Larry the Lamb, on the understanding it was to be published after his death.

In a preface, Mr Hulme Beaman, who was from Tottenham in north London, claims to have removed some "particularly revolting" passages of text.

He describes the one-legged author as having "a streak of cynical and macabre humour".

He concludes: "My personal view, for what it is worth... is that James Carnac was in actual fact 'Jack the Ripper'."

There are several reasons for thinking that it is a work of fiction, not the least of which is the 'feel' of the text
Ripper historian Paul Begg

Museum owner, Alan Hicken, discovered the 'confession' in January 2008, but has only now made the find public.

Mr Hicken, 50, said: "It made the hairs on the back of my head stand up.

"It was very chilling, and quite honestly I was wondering if this was the real thing."

Ripper historian Paul Begg has seen extracts of the manuscript and said it was the earliest Ripper 'autobiography' and as such was an important piece of 'Ripperature'.

He said: "Although this is almost beyond question a work of fiction, as a product of the late 1920s it is a very early piece of 'Ripperature'.

"There are several reasons for thinking that it is a work of fiction, not the least of which is the 'feel' of the text, which reads more like a story than a narrative by the actual author."

But if it is a fake, it would have been a very well-researched fake, said Mr Begg.

He added: "There are some statements which do seem, perhaps, to be very accurate."



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