D.卡尔顿 罗西
D. Carlton Rossi
The Case of the Dear Boss Letter

SH   How busy Watson are you these days in your medical practice?

JW  Never too busy for something out of the ordinary. Do you have anything in mind?

SH   Mostly reading and writing.

JW  As long as there is no 'rithmetic.

SH   We'll leave the 'rithmetic to Moriarty. I've been thinking about the stories you have written describing our adventures. I have a special fondness for the first one called A Study in Scarlet. I've always wondered whether you wrote Part 2 before Part 1.  At any rate, it's a masterpiece as a detective story.

JW   You taught me not to explain too much about methods.  

SH   Rightly so. A Study in Scarlet establishes the genre of the detective story.  The name reminds me of a novel called The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

JW   Doyle claimed that The Scarlet Letter was the best written American novel up to that time.

SH   It's interesting how the infamous letter "A" which might have stood for angel or adulteress begins the name of your book.

JW   It's not a coincidence.  What’s up?   What do you have in mind for our adventure, Holmes?

SH   No wonder your name is Watson. Our case is to determine the author of the Dear Boss letter.

JW   By heavens! The writer of the letter may be a serial killer.

SH    The case is limited to the authorship of the Dear Boss letter; however, admittedly, there are overlaps.

JW   But Holmes, you intend to solve this case through merely reading and writing?

SH   Precisely.

JW   I remember how Arthur Conan Doyle had outlined his method to determine the writer of the letter.  He was interviewed by an American journalist. I think it was in the summer of 1894 if I recall correctly.  Doyle had actually seen the letter when he visited Black Museum at New Scotland Yard. He was particularly fascinated by it.

SH    Yes, it was on December 2, 1892. Isn't it interesting that Arthur Conan Doyle whose acronym is ACD stands for "a consulting detective"?

JW  Oh! Hi ho!  Doyle said that Holmes would have made a facsimile of the letters, show the oddities of the writing and publish the facsimiles in the newspapers. In this way, someone might recognize the handwriting. I wonder why Doyle didn’t do it?

SH  Perhaps something can be gained by analyzing the handwriting of The Dear Boss letter. There are several things that strike me as uncommon in the letter. One is the exceptionally long indentation. The normal indentation of a letter runs about five spaces in length.

JW  There may be many people who begin letters with long indentations.

SH   You are right, Watson. For example, in a letter written to his mother on November 11, 1891, Doyle uses a long indentation. In this letter he tells his mother that he is thinking of "slaying him [Holmes] in the sixth and winding him up for good and all".

JW  I hope it never comes to that.

SH  Thank you, Watson. He doesn't mention you in that letter.

JW   A longer indentation means a shorter first sentence.

SH  Exactly. The first sentence in the Dear Boss letter was five words (there were five murders) while the first sentence in the Doyle letter had six words or five murders plus the intended murder of Holmes. We'll have to look though for another similarity that is more striking.

JW   What's that?

SH   The way in which the writer writes the letter "I" tells a lot about him/her. It is the most personal letter of the alphabet and a word.

JH    Wouldn't the Ripper know this?   He would disguise his "I".

SH   A professional writer might be able to easily disguise his handwriting and style. Remember that the scientific study of handwriting was in its infancy so similarities of samples might go unnoticed. In all probability he would disguise the letter "I" as he would disguise other things in his letter.

JH  Then how does it help us?

SH   In the way he disguises the "I" and what it may relate to.

JW   I don't quite follow you, Holmes.

SH   Ah, now you want me to explain in detail.  All right, I'll tell. The "I" reminds me of a fish-hook or meat hook. It has a pronounced barb on one end and on the other end an eye loop.

JW   Does that mean that the Ripper is a fishmonger or butcher?

SH   That might be a conclusion Lestrade would jump to.

JW   Don't keep me in suspense.

SH   It might be possible that at one time or another the writer was a fisherman or fishmonger. He would catch fish with a hook and cut them up. On the other hand, he might cut up larger mammals such as seals or whales. He would be rather insensitive to killing these animals and believe that the animals had no feeling of pain. I believe that Doyle held those views with regard to his adventure aboard the whaler.

JW   He might be a butcher, eh?

SH   As a butcher he would have learned the positions of the various organs in an animal's body. And he would use a hook to hang up the animal or its parts. But remember, it is a deception. He is neither a fisherman nor a butcher now. He may have used this symbol because he had used the hook in the past. However, he may also use this symbol because he wished to describe someone who hung up the body parts with a hook.

JW  This is gruesome.

SH   No more gruesome than the murders.

JW   As far as that goes, he could be a doctor. It could be me!  I use a hook as one of my surgical instruments.

SH   You are getting imaginative now, my dear Watson. It was Doyle who said that a doctor gone wrong could be one of the worst criminals.

JW   Surely you don't suspect me as the writer or even the killer?

SH   The Ripper was particularly adept at "dialect writing". For example, he used such Americanisms as "fix", "quit" and "boss". You, too, were able to use American slang; such as, "mother's a deader" and "I didn't go for to do it".  However, you regard yourself as a doctor and not a professional writer.  You are not an expert at handwriting and the Dear Boss letter is written by an expert who can disguise his handwriting.  In terms of the actual murders, you have surgical skills as a surgeon; however, you were wounded at Maiwand. As a result, your brachial plexus was damaged. You find it difficult to undertake surgery due to loss of fine motor control in your left hand. The Ripper was adept with a knife in performance of precise surgical operations. It was generally believed that the murderer was a doctor for this reason and that he was a local resident. Police would have interviewed every doctor at London Hospital. However, it was not assumed that the doctor lived out of town. The fact that the murders were committed on the weekend might lend support to this view.

JW   Doctors may see hundreds of patients in a day. Wouldn't there be the chance that a passer-by might recognize the Ripper if he were a doctor even though he was from out of town?

SH   Not if he had a disguise. In the same way that he turned the letter "I" into a hook he might disguise his appearance. For example, he might put on a hooked nose.

JW  Sherlock, what further kind of disguise might he have? Surely witnesses would remember any man whether he was disguised as a butcher, baker or candlestick maker.

SH   What if the killer were disguised as a woman?   In A Study in Scarlet, a young man disguised himself as a woman and we didn't recognise him. You'll remember also in The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone how I followed Count Sylvius all day disguised as an elderly woman. Your Literary Agent, Doyle, suggested to the police that the killer might be disguised as a woman.

JW  Do you mean disguised as a prostitute?

SH   No, other men might bother her.  A male doctor or perhaps his accomplice might disguise himself/herself as an old mid-wife. He/she could then move freely about and there would be no alarm raised if there was blood on the dress. Furthermore, he wouldn't alarm his victims. Of course, he may not have disguised himself in this way for every murder. In the fifth murder, there is reason to believe that the killer or accomplice might have burned some of his/her own clothes in the fireplace. In other words, he/she may have burned a disguise.

JW   By Jove, I think you might be on to something Holmes. The doctor would have to be a master of disguise like you. Sometimes I can't recognize you when you are two feet away.

JW   If the Ripper had a confidant then who would be the most likely candidate?

SH   The writer of the Dear Boss letter.

JW   I seem to recall that both Doyle and Donston submitted articles to the Pall Mall Gazette on December 1, 1888. Was there any connection between these doctors?

SH   Let me see. Donstan said that “one cannot afford to throw aside any theory, however extravagant, without careful examination, because the truth might, after all, lie in the most unlikely one”. A similar quote appears in The Sign of Four (1890); although this was after the murders. It read “When you have excluded the impossible, what remains, however improbable, must be the truth”.  Perhaps Doyle was paraphrasing Donstan.

JW   What else did they have in common in terms of reading and writing?

SH   Doyle submitted many articles to newspapers throughout his life: Donston listed his occupation as a journalist. Furthermore, Donston explained the probable meaning of the Juwes message. He said simply that the dot was unnoticed over the “i” and the word should have read “Juives” which is the feminine form of “Juifs” and means Jewesses. It's a French word. What intrigues me though about the entire message of Dear Boss are the letters b, f and o.   If looked at in an altered order they spell the word "fob". In its archaic sense, the verb "fob" means cheat or deceive. This message was meant to deceive, JW.

JW   The Juwes message was an obvious red herring. It may though indicate an anti-Semitic bias on the part of the killer.

SH   When Doyle wrote to Mary Doyle he made a slur against the Jews. He said “Are they not Jews after having had such a windfall as the book must have been to them to try & do me on the pictures like this.”

SH   Let's look for clues in the mystery novella that you wrote—namely, A Study in Scarlet. It may be that the Ripper paid special attention to this novel.

JW  It appeared as the main story in Beeton's Christmas Annual for 1887.  In other words, it appeared less than a year before the murders.

SH   We might ask ourselves whether a prominent mystery writer such as yourself might use the word “hook” in his novel and how many times he might use it.

JW  Heavens Holmes, I haven't the faintest idea.

SH  There are two reasons I might ask a question. One reason is for me to discover something and the other reason is for the responder to discover something. In this instance, it's the latter.

JW  You mean you know the answer?

SH   It's used once. The general rule might be that it's an unimportant word because it's used only once, but the exception might be the context within which it's found. Here is the context. “However, we may as well go and have a look. I shall work it out on my own hook. I may have a laugh at them if I have nothing else”.

JW  It's rather poetical.

SH   Yes and draws attention to itself in that way. Furthermore, the word “I” begins the second sentence and the word “hook” ends the sentence. The first and last words are important ones in most English sentences. In this case, they act as bookends. In the middle is the phrase “work it out” standing like a book. Therefore, the word “work” becomes an important word.  We also have the rhyming words look, work and hook.  It might be rephrased as “Look at the work on the hook”.

JW   You mean to say that the Ripper read these lines and uses these words in his letter.

SH   There is a high probability.

JW   My God.

SH   That common word “work” appears an uncommon number of times in your book.

JW   I take pride in my work as both a doctor and a writer.

SH   Rightly so. The word appears directly twenty-three times.

JW   I'm dazed at your mastery of minutiae.

SH   If one misses the minutes then one misses the days.
You rightly chide my pride when you say that “I may have a laugh at them”--meaning the police. The Ripper, too, laughed at the police with his “ha ha”.  He also uses the word “laughed” in the phrase “I have laughed when they look so clever” which refers to the bungling police. Finally, we find the word “look” again when it repeats later.

JW  Do you remember your cry when you developed an infallible test for bloodstains?

SH   Ha! Ha!

JW  One might expect to find the word “rip” as in Ripper,

SH   Ah ha. The word “rip” does not appear in the novel. However, it is embedded in words like “inscription” and “description”.  These words refer to writing.  Also, the letters r, i and p as in the familiar “rest in peace” appear in various orders of many words. How many detectives have looked at the word Ripper to mean “rip her”?  See how he rips or slashes in his writing.  Pay attention to the t's.  They are written quickly with a rip from left to right. He has given up the cross or rather the crossing of his t's. It looks vaguely familiar. I remember now. The “t” letter resembles the way the “t's” were crossed in your draft of A Study in Scarlet.   So the “t” becomes a symbol that looks like a hook. The Ripper or rather the one who calls himself the Ripper may write quickly because he is in the habit of writing a lot. When he underlines the two phrases “ha ha” the line resembles a rip across.

JW  You are saying  that the writer of the Dear Boss Letter might have been a writer?

SH   As the Ripper might say “you are on the right track”. One of his goals was to heighten the sense of horror in his readers.

JW   What kind of writer?

SH   Most likely a writer of detective fictions. One might believe that the murders would increase readers' fascinations with horror tales.   However, his interest may have varied and he may also have written scientific papers to medical journals.

JW   Doyle's friend Dr. George Budd might fit the bill.

SH   His friend did submit papers to medical journals. However, so did Doyle.   Doyle was suffering from neuralgia and he wished to alleviate the pain so he took the experimental drug called gelsemium nitidum.  Furthermore, he experimented with the drug to determine overdose symptoms. This was potentially a dangerous set of experiments and may have indicated a recklessness of character. The report was published in the British Medical Journal of September 20th 1879.  However, to return to Budd, he did show signs of mental unbalance.  To put it another way, Doyle’s friend showed signs of mental unbalance. 

JW   I have here Doyle's The Stark Munro Letters. He describes a doctor whose name is Cullingworth to his mother, but that may be a surrogate for Budd. “You've quite come to the conclusion by this time that Cullingworth is simply an interesting pathological study—a man in the first stage of lunacy or general paralysis”.

SH  It seems though that Budd's main drive in life was to make money as a doctor rather than as a writer. The writer of the DBL may have made money if he was a writer of horror tales because many people would be interested in reading this genre.

JW   It's ironic that three important people in Doyle's life had similar names; namely, Budd, Bell and Ball. The first two were doctors and the third an architect interested in spiritualism.

SH   It was in 1887 that Ball and Doyle conducted experiments in mental telepathy. He said that beyond a doubt he could convey thoughts without words. Then there was Doyle's letter published in Light.  Let me refer to my notes.  Here it is, it was on July 2rd, 1887 when Doyle declared “that it was absolutely certain that intelligence could exist apart from the body”. You and I have a keen interest in the bizarre. That's why I knew this case would be of interest.

JW   I remember in The Red Headed League how I said something to the effect that for strange effects and extraordinary combinations, we must go to life itself. But Holmes, aren't you overlooking the obvious?  In A Study in Scarlet, the killer wrote the five letter, German word “RACHE” in blood on the wall.  The Ripper too wrote in his own blood. Furthermore, there was the Juwes message written in chalk on the doorjamb at some distance from the Eddowes murder. It contained the five letter, unknown language “Juwes” word.

SH  Exactly.  There are a lot of clues in writing.  This may show again that the writer and/or the Ripper were intimately familiar with the novella A Study in Scarlet.   Look at the phrase “down on” as in “I am down on whores” that is prominent in the letter.  “Down on” could mean literally and/or figuratively. The phrase “down on” is used six times in this letter as in “down on the ground”.   It is known that Dr. Arthur Conan Doyle MB, CM, MD was biased against prostitutes and so was Dr. Robert D'Onston Stephenson MB, CM.

JW   Why would a doctor be down on whores?

SH   Doyle’s words might be quoted.  In 1917 he asked “Is it not possible in any way to hold in check the vile women who prey upon and poison soldiers in London?”

JW    Doyle, too, wrote some stories as part of a Red Light series.

SH   Doyle's office was often mistaken for a brothel because of the red light in front which was a sign of a general practitioner. A doctor would meet many women of the night who were syphilitic.  More so if he had specialized by earning an MD in this area as Doyle did.  Furthermore, he may have held a grudge against them for spreading the disease to others.

D'Onston had caught syphilis from a prostitute. He also had admitted to killing two people when he was abroad. In a twisted mind, the letter writer may have thought that he was saving people by supporting the killing of whores. They make a curious pair as members of the Theosophist Society. D'Onston is a classic manipulator and Doyle is a classic case of someone who can be manipulated through his gullibility. D'Onston established his company called The Pompadour Cosmetique Co. right across from us on Baker Street.

JW  That reminds me of a joke in poor taste. When Doyle received his degree, he drew a cartoon with the caption “Licensed to kill” underneath.  It's of interest to see the slashing of the letter “t” in this caption. The slashing of the letter "t" was characteristic of the writer of the DBL; as well as the slash under the "ha ha". However, the most obvious trademark of the letter writer is the name "Jack the Ripper". The rip or slash is part of the last name. The slashed throat was a trademark of the actual murderer.

SH   I suppose there is an element of truth in the joke because doctors of that time were just beginning to diagnose diseases in a scientific way.  In some sense, a detective on the force who searches for clues to the crime resembles a doctor who is looking for symptoms of a disease.   Crime detection was just beginning as a science and it may be that many a guilty man hasn't been caught.

JW  And many an innocent one found guilty.   I'm reminded of the Edalji case.  He was accused of writing letters as early as 1888 (at the time of the Ripper murders) and of maiming horses.  It was only through the efforts of a public crusader (Doyle) who wrote articles for the Daily Telegraph that he was found innocent of the mutilations but guilty of writing the anonymous letters.  In this same way, someone might have been guilty of writing the Dear Boss letters, but not of the murders.  However, he may also have been an accomplice to murder.   In the letters, Doyle commented that Edalji was as innocent of the mutilations as was he.  It's curious why Doyle took such an interest in this case.

SH   Of course, we must not dismiss the possibility that the Dear Boss letter was a hoax. It may have been perpetrated by someone who was playing a joke.  He talks about “That joke about Leather apron” and “funny little games”.

JW   He reminds me of a mischievous Irish fairy. The belief in fairies was prevalent in folklore; although, in modern times it may be a sign of schizophrenia manifesting itself in delusions.

SH   Isn't that usually an hereditary disease?

JW  It may run in some families and gallop in others.  It's usually intensified by substance abuse such as alcohol or cocaine.   It's well known that Doyle wrote an article of support for the Cottingley fairies in “The Strand Magazine” and a book on The Coming of the Fairies.  His father sketched 'The Fairy Music Stool' in his diary. Finally, his uncle drew 'Enter an Elf in search of a Fairy' for his book In Fairy Land.

SH    I hope you appreciate the joke, but doesn’t our relationship seem at times schizophrenic?  We are two different people, but almost inseparable.  You are the lamb and I am the hound, so to speak. 

JW   Ah, say Ah, Ha Ha.  The doctor becomes a writer and the scientist becomes a detective.  We solve the crimes together. 

SH   It also seems possible that a person could have a delusion about being a murderer.  Let us say as a young boy that he was sent away from home because his maniacal father tried to kill him.  His father commits himself to a home for inebriates or was institutionalized in an asylum. The son might be concerned that he, too, would become like his father--especially if he started to show signs of mental illness.  Maybe the son avoided the pitfalls of alcoholism but succumbed to a cocaine habit.  It's possible through a delusion that he might believe he was the actual murderer; although this scenario seems rather farfetched.  Anyway, he might identify with the one who attempted murder. 

JW   It's more likely that others might believe he was the murderer.  For example, in A Study in Scarlet  (ASIS), the son Arthur who defends his sis is mistaken for the killer who fights like an epileptic (Charles Doyle) with exceptional strength.  Remember that Arthur Doyle, too, came under a shadow in his medical career when his patient named Jack Hawkins died. Jack was suffering from meningitis. Doyle prescribed chloral hydrate to his patient. There is no evidence to suggest foul play. However, the medicine may have hastened Jack's death.  He may have felt guilt over this and been regarded by others as a murderer who had motive.  Ironically, Doyle married Jack's sister.

SH   Doyle might also have known or believed he knew who was the Ripper or been a confidant and so in one way or another have identified with him.

JW  There were several medical men who were suspected of the Ripper murders. He would have to have a Jekyll and Hyde kind of personality.

SH   It is no secret that Doyle was an ardent admirer of Robert Louis Stevenson who wrote The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1886.  That was two years before the murders.

JH   That's true. The story dealt with crimes and secrets of respectable members of society. On rare occasions, a man's inner beast would dominate. He would act like a wolf or stalking cat.  However, on most occasions, he would wear a mask of propriety on the outside.   Sometimes he might be quite active, but most of the times he might suffer from severe bouts of depression and become lethargic if not catatonic. These states almost seem to parallel the effects of the two drugs of cocaine and morphine.  Sigmund Freud completed a review article in June 1884 called “Ueber Coca” where he extolled cocaine as a miracle drug. A year later he stressed how cocaine would be used by psychiatrists to treat melancholia or neurasthenia. He not only experimented with the drug but took cocaine himself to treat his depression and indigestion. You must realize though that it is a stimulant rather than a depressant. Cocaine can distort one's view of the world and lead one to bizarre behaviour. However, it is recognized now that cocaine abuse can intensify schizophrenia so it is not used as a treatment. Who knows what a schizophrenic on cocaine might be capable of doing?

SH  Sorry, Watson, I was distracted. Do you want a seven percent solution of cocaine?

JW   Ah, no. I must keep my wits about me. I don't have so many wits to lose.  I had been reading though through my description of you in A Study in Scarlet. “Nothing could exceed his energy when the working fit was upon him; but now and again a reaction would seize him and for days on end he would lie upon the sofa in the sitting room, hardly uttering a word or moving a muscle from morning to night”. As a doctor, I might classify those as symptoms of manic-depression. I am also concerned about your views on the ex-Professor Moriarty. They seemed highly delusional.  In The Final Problem you claim he is the Napoleon of crime and “the organizer of half that is evil and of nearly all that is undetected in this great city.”  It seems that only you know about Moriarty.  The Professor is almost like death personified.  It can lead to no good.  Your illness may make you suffer from delusions and make you more prone to substance abuse.

SH  If I was more like you then you wouldn't like me. If I was more like anyone else then I wouldn't like myself.  There may be another work that the writer of the Dear Boss letter read.

JW  Really. Is it one of mine?

SH  No, it's written by Arthur Conan Doyle. There seems to be a bit of the chivalrous knight (Arthur) and a bit of the little wolf (Conan) in Arthur Conan. Indeed, one may also contrast the syllables "art" and "con" (counterfeit art).  Perhaps one can also view "art" as on the outside and "con" as on the inside. It's a historical novel called Micah Clarke.  It can be abbreviated as MC but I prefer to shorten it to “HE”. The word Michah ends in “h” and the word Clarke ends in “e”.  As an aside, it was a doctor named Donstan who claimed in the February 15, 1890 issue of the Pall Mall Gazette that he was "the Author of the Original of "She". Anyway, HE was competing against a previously successful novel called She written by Haggard.  Doyle was asked by the publisher to rip out some pages of his novel to make it shorter. It must have hurt his sense of pride.

JW  Historical novels are not generally read by people who like detective fictions and vice versa.    

SH    That's true. For that matter, historical novels are not generally written by writers who write detective fictions.  It is a split that is difficult to reconcile except through madness or genius or by a mad genius.  Ironically, your work called A Study in Scarlet has both. The detective aspects are in England and historical elements in Utah.  Are you familiar with the novel called Micah Clarke?

JW   I've read it. There seems to be an element of autobiography in the novel.  It begins in a village called Havant near Portsmouth off the main London road.   Of course, Doyle practiced medicine in Southsea.  Clarke's father, Joseph, resembles to some degree Doyle's own father who was self-restrained most of the time but on occasion showed signs of a fierce and fiery fanaticism which may be a sign of temporal lobe epilepsy.  Clarke's mother was Mary Shepstone. She is portrayed much like Doyle saw his mother. She was respected by those above and beneath. Generally speaking, the boy's childhood was gloomy.

SH  There is a curious incident mentioned in the novel regarding the boy's childhood. His father looked at him gravely, took him aside and then chastised him. Then he calls him “corn ripe” ...'waiting only for the reapers”.   Now with a little imagination we can see the word “rip” within “ripe” and the similarity between the word “reapers” and “ripper”.

JW  Is there anything more?

SH  Well, the trooper yelled to Joseph 'Hit the crop-eared rascal over the pate, Jack!' There is the name “Jack” as in Jack the Ripper. The name was repeated when he was called “a smug-faced Presbytery Jack”.

JW  This incident was probably from the childhood memories of Doyle. You imply that when the writer uses the name Jack in his signature, he might be delusorily identifying himself with his father. Is there any other mention of a Jack in the novel?

SH    We would have to go to Chapter XXX called “Of the Swordman with the Brown Jacket”.  The word “Jack” is embedded in the word Jacket. The owner of the brown jacket is a highwayman called Hector Marot who also owns jack boots.  He glances “about like some fierce wild beast in a trap”.

JW  He came to the rescue of a woman, didn't he?

SH   Yes, he had good intentions, but he was not successful.  He had heard the woman's screams and rushed to the rescue.  However, she died with a “rigid face and twisted body” while the hung man was saved.  He tells this story to Sir Gervas [graves].

JW  I remember that he performed a medical operation. He opened the old man's veins with a knife to let out the blood.

SH   His words were most curious to me when he rushed to the rescue.  He said, “Why, marry, I”.  You’ve been married five times.  You were successful on the sixth.

JW   Clarke's mother was named Mary and so was Doyle's.

SH   Exactly Watson.  And the first and last victim of the Ripper had the given name of Mary.  The first victim was named Mary Anne “Polly” Nichols who was born Mary Ann Walker.  The last victim was named Mary Jane Kelly or Kate Kelly. Of course, one alias used by the fourth victim was Mary Ann Kelly.  However, I would rather not explore at this time depth psychology and oedipal complex which may have a bearing on the issue. 

JW  It seems more than a coincidence that all three victims had the name “Mary”. Of course, it’s a common name; nevertheless, the murder of Mary Jane Kelly took place on Dorset Street.  It is a fact that four of the five victims had lived or were living on Dorset Street.  It was an infamous street running east-west in Spitalfields of the East End. It was known locally as Dosset Street because of its many common lodging places.

SH   I don't recall that we were ever there together or for that matter Thrawl, Flower and Dean Streets. These are some of the most vile areas of London where crime and criminals flourish. The area is ripe with pickpockets, robbers and non-convicted murderers.  It's almost as if we were avoiding the area and topic of the Ripper murders. We haven't investigated the Ripper murders nor even referred to those murders in our study of other crimes.  In fact, it reminds me of the curious incident of the dog in the nighttime that did not bark.  It wasn't the barking of the dog that caught my attention but the lack of barking.

JW   I have chosen cases that exhibited the least sensationalism in order to highlight the full extent of your investigative abilities.  In terms of Dorset Street of Spitalfields, it underwent a name change in 1904 and has since become an unnamed private access road. On the other hand, isn't it more than a coincidence that there is a Dorset Square and Dorset Street running east-west so close to us in Westminster?

SH  It's difficult to explain it by using deductive or inductive logic.

JW   It would seem that a close proximity of Baker Street and both Dorset Square and Dorset Street might be a case of acausal  connection. It is synchronicity or “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events”.

SH   And it was you who once described my writing in The Book of Life as “ineffable twaddle”.  It implies a kind of recognized pattern which manifests itself as a meaningful relation but cannot be explained using classic scientific method. Your concept though is interesting if it expresses a collective unconscious or grand design of some deeper meaning.

JW   Sure. There may be a connection between the Dear Boss letter, the murders, Baker and Dorset names which we are aware of but which we can not clearly elucidate or enunciate.

SH   On another matter, consider the possible significance of the number thirty in Chapter XXX. Needless to say, the third and fourth Ripper murders took place on the 30th of September. That number 30 keeps repeating in this chapter, too, in a curious context.  It is said “mor'n thirty year”, “thirty zeed-toimes” and “harvests we've worked thirty together”. Sow one's seed can have a double meaning and the harvest is one of blood.

JW   The number thirty is also implicit in the warning countdown that Young gives John Ferrier in A Study in Scarlet. A notice is given to amend within 29 days or face the consequences. “The twenty nine days were evidently the balance of the month which Young had promised”. Perhaps the prostitutes who were killed by the Ripper had 29 days to amend or face the consequences.

SH   Let's refer back to the Dear Boss letter. The Ripper says “That joke about Leather apron”.   In other words, he is laughing at those who think he wears a leather apron.  In Micah Clarke, the hero's father was a leather merchant and tanner who “prospered at his trade”.  He would have worn a leather apron.  Is the Ripper or writer laughing because people might confuse him with his own father or rather because he confuses himself with his father?  The Ripper also laughs when people think he is a doctor.

JW  Ah ha, the character Marot performed an operation like a doctor and might seem to be one.

SH   There are two sides of the author portrayed in Chapter 30.  First, there is Clarke. He may be likened to an innocent lark.  He is son of Mary and Joseph.  But remember, too, that the name of the Ripper's last victim was Mary and her live-in boyfriend's name was Joe Barnett.   No doubt the two names originated from Doyle's mother whose given names were “Mary Josephine Elizabeth”.  Embedded in the name Clarke is the word “ark” with holy significance. Then there is Hector Marot.  He may be likened to the rat. He retch(es), is associated with a “torch” in his fieriness and is “mar rot”.  He has an unsavoury trade as highwayman, but is not unlike a false saviour at times.

JW  What about the word “hook” in this book?  Obviously it appears as the hook suspending the man upside down by a rope and the hams and meats dangling from the rafters.

SH  You have the most important usages. Marot sees a birding-piece on hooks. There is the name Hooker that is mentioned several times in this chapter.  That reminds me about the hooked “I” in the Dear Boss letter.  It also somehow resembles an ear, a hooked ear or a hooked earring.  The clipped ear of Mary Ann Nichols may have been hung up on a hook by the Ripper.

JW   Can you refresh my memory concerning Marot's face?

SH   His most distinguishing feature is a white seam across his forehead as from a slash with a knife.  Sir Gervas calls it a trade-mark upon his forehead. Note how the Ripper added a postscript to his letter by referring to his signature as a trade-name.  A professional writer might be especially concerned with trade-names and trade-marks. The word “trade” appears several times in the novel.

JW  I'm wondering, Holmes, what piqued your interest in the novel Micah Clarke?

SH  I’m a pioneer of forensic linguistic analysis.  One issue was “word frequency”.  I had looked at A Study in Scarlet in terms of phrase frequency. In other words, I concentrated on trying to find some of those singular kinds of phrases found in the Dear Boss letter.  For example, there is the phrase “real fits”. On the whole, I was not too successful. When I recently viewed Micah Clarke, as it was closer to the time of the murders, I decided to take a different tack or track.  I would focus on word frequency. The word “work” stood out in the letter because it was important to the writer and because it was repeated four times. His work is killing.  The word “work” appears one hundred and one times in the novel.  In terms of the Victorian work ethic this may not seem surprising.  However, I noted how each word was used and also the frequency in particular chapters. The word “work” within the phrase “no mercy after the devil's work” stuck out.  It's found in Chapter XXX. So if X marks the spot then this is triple X or should I say triple cross?  I followed up by reading Chapter XXX to determine how many times the word appeared.  The word “work” popped up only three times which meant that the frequency was rather low. This does not though negate the importance of the word in its association with the word “devil”.  In an aside, I marvelled at the similarity between the words “devil” and “evil”. It may be that evil is the act and devil the actor.  I'm not sure which comes first.  Then, does the evil vile devil live?  If I were a consulting poet I might say so.  However, I was rather astonished to see that the other words in the letter had a high rate of frequency in this chapter and in particular within the telling of two stories; namely, the “scream scene” and the “scent scene”.

JW What words repeat?

SH  It’s probably just easier to list them rather to explain all their contexts. They are catch, down, ear, ears, game, jack, job, laughed, leather, little, look, jolly, knife, officers, red, right, sharp, stuff, trade, track and work. They appear also in the Dear Boss letter. Incidentally, there are several key words in the opening sentences of the novel that are found in the letter; namely, knife and right.  In the letter the knife or pen slashes left to right to underscore importance. In other words, the knife is right that slashes to the right.

JW   Can you remark on the word “ears” because the Ripper threatened to clip off the lady's ears?

SH   The scene where “ears” is mentioned is important.  It is preceded by a whispering of Sir Gervas into the “man's ears” (highwayman's) about the rascal's identity.  In the actual scene, there is a complicated chase.  I call it the “scent scene” because the dogs follow the hare by scent.  It is described though as a “catch-who-catch can” game played by boys.  It could be construed as the peace officers who chase the highwayman who chases the three farmers who chase the hare. Their goal is the hare's ears. This might be taken in the letter to mean the police officers who chase the Ripper who chases the lady.  His goal is the lady's ears.  However, if we use the same fourfold parallel in the Micah Clarke text then we find a hidden agenda. One of the Ripper's motives might be money.

JW  I don't follow you, Holmes.  How can money be a motive if the prostitute has very little and is out on the street because she can't afford a bed?

SH   This explains it. The police officers chase the Ripper who chases the customer(s) who chase(s) the lady. The Ripper would hold up the customer(s) at gunpoint before he chased them away.

JW  If this is true then wouldn't the customer be a potential witness against him?

SH  Yes, but he would not likely report the crime. However, this scenario is unlikely in a crowded urban environment. It appears that the plan may have been contemplated, but was not consummated.

JW   There are other references to ears in the detective series.  

SH   Yes, The Adventure of The Cardboard Box appeared in January 1893 as the second of twelve serialized stories in “The Strand”.  It was removed from the “Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes” ostensibly because it touched on the themes of alcoholism and adultery, but there may have been other reasons. The story involved the cutting off of two ears.

JW  The publication date was considerably after the time of the Ripper murders.

SH   That's true. However, the actual case took place in the hot days of August 1887 or one year before the murders.   Also, if you recall, there were my two monographs in the previous year's Anthropological Journal in the month of March concerning the distinctive characteristics or identities of human ears.  In the Cardboard Box case, the killer mailed two ears to a recipient.  Initially, it was believed to be a hoax.  In the Eddowes case, it may have been the killer who mailed a half of a left kidney preserved in wine.  But there is another parallel.  A kidney has a resemblance to a human ear.  In addition, the lobe and auricle of Eddowes' right ear were obliquely cut through. This act seems to fulfill the intention stated by the writer who calls himself Ripper in the Dear Boss Letter.

JW  It is notable in the Dear Boss letter that the Ripper threatened to send ears to the police officers, but only a kidney was sent to the leader of a vigilance committee.  In the CB adventure, the killer really sent a pair of ears from different victims to the eldest sister who lived significantly on Cross Street.  What I am saying is this.  What the Ripper didn't do in real life was done fictionally in a sense both before the murders when the CB case transpired and after the murders when the story was serialized.

SH   In the CB case, two ears were mailed rather than a kidney. One was a male's and the other a female's. It sounds rather occult with its balance. However, let's examine the Mary Jane Kelly killing.   It was a ghastly affair. Her whole body was mutilated. However, among those parts mutilated were the ears. The ears were rather overlooked because of the other mutilations which were much more prominent. Or should I say that the Ripper wanted us to overlook the ears. It may suggest that the killer believed someone wasn't listening to him. It reminds me of the incident where Van Gough cut off his own ear because Gauguin wasn't listening to him. It may suggest the killer knew the victim. And in this particular murder it would be the ears and eyes which were the means of identification.  It so happened that the victim had a set of uniquely recognizable ears. That's also true in the CB case. The victim's ears were readily identifiable.  However, there was a similarity between her ears and her sister's ears. In fact, they were essentially the same. The victim of the CB case was named Mary and the Ripper's victim was named Mary, too.

JW   The unidentified serial killer may have killed an unidentified woman in the fifth murder.

SH   You are showing insight. Kelly was rather a mysterious woman. There was no record of birth. She may have been Welsh or Irish.  She assumed many names from Mary Jane Kelly, Fair Emma, Ginger to Black Mary. Her hair color may have been ginger, blonde or redhead.

JW  One of Kelly's most distinguishing features were her ears. The killer removed a portion of each ear. What if the killer and Kelly lured a woman to the apartment?  Kelly left. The woman was killed and disfigured so identification would be difficult. The woman's clothes were burned.

SH  Indeed, Kelly may have been recognized by Caroline Maxwell at 8:30 am on the morning after the murder and by Maurice Lewis at about 10:00 am.

JW   Do you remember when there was an art exhibition at a picture gallery near Bond Street?

SH   It is curious that you mention it.  There were the Belgian masters who included James Ensor. He visited London for four days in 1888. There is a probability that Doyle visited the gallery, too.  Ensor's paintings which were among the group called XX may have reminded Doyle about some of the macabre water colours drawn by his father. He displayed some of his father's paintings on his office wall.

JW  Ensor's work typified 'mystical expressionism'.

SH  Exactly. I remember one picture in particular. It was called “My Dead Father”.  It showed how his alcoholic father fell in an Ostand doorway and died of exposure. One might expect that this picture was of special interest to Doyle since his father was an alcoholic.

JW  He admitted himself to Blairerno House. In May 1885, he was declared insane.  On May 26th 1885 he was transferred to Montrose Royal Asylum. A few months later on August 6th, Doyle was married to Louise Hawkins and in the next year on March 8th, I began writing A Study in Scarlet.

SH  Doyle could not help noticing the carnival masks at the exhibition that Ensor began to paint in 1884. They were mocking human pretentiousness. It's possible that the Ripper used a mask or make-up to disguise himself as a woman based on the Ensor masks.

JW  You have looked at other people's names in literature and described their meaning. However, what's the meaning of your name?

SH   Some have made guesses as to my given name and family name, but not the whole name. For example, Sherlock means “fair-haired”.  Sherlock may come from the name Alfred Sherlock who was a violinist. There was also a Chief Inspector Sherlock. My surname was used by Doyle in an essay called “After Cormorants with a Camera”. There was a Timothy Holmes who wrote “A System of Surgery”. Most probably it came from the well-known Oliver Wendell Holmes.

JW  I have my own guess as to the origin of your name. The name Sherlock Holmes means “sure lock homes”.  In other words, they are homes that have secure locks.  Here is a riddle, what kind of home is easy to get into but hard to get out of?

SH  An asylum.

JW  You guessed it. What I am saying is that one of the factors that went into the making of your name was the character of Charles Doyle. You are not an alcoholic, but you do inject cocaine.  Doyle's wife did say that her husband used “stimulants” which may have implied cocaine. Furthermore, Charles Doyle illustrated the July 1888 edition of A Study in Scarlet.  His picture of Sherlock Holmes was a self portrait of a young Charles.

SH  You mean that I might be capable of writing the Dear Boss letter?

JW   If I might quote from the The Sign of Four.  “What a terrible criminal you would have made had you turned your energy and sagacity against the law instead of exerting them in its defence”. You are an expert at handwriting. You have written papers on esoteric topics, so writing comes naturally to you. You understand anatomy. You are an expert on the subject of crime.  You think yourself superior to the police.  At times, you act like judge, jury and executioner.  Finally, you might think yourself able to commit the perfect crime.  However, based on your own words, you are not Jack the Ripper because you were unfamiliar with the novel Micah Clarke until after the murders.

SH   You might make a detective, yet, as you take little for granted.  Yes, I am one of the hounds and not the wolf.

JW  I might also draw your attention to the close proximity in time between the death of Charles Doyle and your apparent death. As a patient at Crichton Royal [mental] Hospital, Charles Doyle literally fell to his death in an epileptic fit on October 10th 1893. You fell over the cliff at Reichenbach Falls. The Adventure of the Final Problem may well have been written in the first weeks of April.  Isn’t the final problem really about death? Doyle writes in a letter posted from Norwood on April 6th 1893 that he was “in the middle of the last Holmes story, after which the gentleman vanishes, never to return again. It seems also that Doyle was considering the possibility of his father's death for it was on June 24th that he wrote to his mother “If papa died and you had no pension....”  The Final Problem appeared in December 1893. This is where you have a near death experience through a fall.

SH   It seems ironic that Doyle conceived of the idea of Holmes' death when he visited Switzerland and that his wife, Louise, was diagnosed with consumption (tuberculosis) just a few weeks after returning from the trip.  Doyle hypothesizes that she may have overtaxed herself or encountered microbes in some inn bedroom. He and Louise were to travel to Davos, Switzerland which for many readers was like returning to the scene of the crime.

JW  It shook me when I heard news of your death.

SH   I didn't know you missed me so much, Watson, but I couldn't inform you about the actual situation for your own safety.

JW  I did miss you and so did Doyle because he resurrected you in another adventure.

SH   He resurrected his father, too. Three weeks after his father's death he became a subscriber to the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research of which Alfred Wallace was a member. He undertook correspondence with Oliver Lodge who was one of the founding members. Doyle was fascinated by the story of the Cook mediumship. For years he continued to assert his belief in her genuineness. In the summer of 1894 he talked in detail on a frequent basis with Balfour, Lodge and Myers about the problem of communicating with the dead.

JW  Are you speculating that Doyle's interest was reinvigorated in psychic phenomena at this time by the death of his father whom he may have wanted to contact in the afterlife?

SH   It is more certain that his prodigious output of stories with psychic themes; such as, mesmerism in The Parasite were linked with his father. Professor Gilroy who is a neurasthenic physiologist is reminiscent of Charles Doyle. Gilroy escapes from his prison by slipping the key under the door. The professor attempts to disfigure his fiancee or perhaps murder her and finally decides to murder the female clairvoyant, but finds her dead. Of course, the Gilroy character may be a composite. He also seems similar to Donstan who had admitted himself to hospital with either a complaint of neurasthenia or neurosthenia.  If the Gilroy character is a composite that includes Donstan then is it possible that Donstan could have earlier murdered Gurney who was a founding member of the Society for Psychical Research and expert on hypnotism?  Or was it just a coincidence that Gurney may have died from chloroform of which he treated himself and Donstan overdosed on chloral hydrate to treat his delerium tremens?

JW   Those are a lot of coincidences.

SH  In Memories and Adventures by Arthur Conan Doyle, it is stated that he begins the novel Micah Clarke after October 30, 1886. He spent some months researching historical detail.  However, he then wrote it quickly and was finished in early 1888.  It was submitted to various publishers beginning April 30th but without success. He then began and completed another novel by June 1888.  It appears that he went to London in order to convince publishers to handle the novel Micah Clarke.  Was he in London at the time of the murders?  In a letter dated February 1889, Doyle says that he made his final revise of all four hundred pages of Micah Clarke. This implies that the only ones to have read Micah Clarke before the murders were some of the publishers, someone close to Doyle or of course--Arthur Doyle.

JW   You mean to say that since Doyle wrote Micah Clarke and there are parallels in the novel and the Dear Boss letter that one might infer that Doyle was the one who signed the letter as Jack the Ripper?

SH  It's a distinct possibility. However, it is not a certainty at this stage because it is also possible that Doyle revised Micah Clarke by adding Chapter XXX among other changes. This means that he could have read about the murders in the paper and then added Chapter XXX.

JW  However, as I understand matters, many publishers were uninterested in Micah Clarke for various reasons. Later, Doyle was talking with Longmans in October 1888 and at that time he signed a contract. The critic Andrew Lang then advised him to shorten the text. At around that time he shortened the text by ten pages. In other words, there were probably no changes made to Micah Clarke before the Dear Boss letter and the first murder of the Ripper. Chapter XXX was probably part of the original manuscript. Later, changes were made to make the novel shorter rather than longer after talks with the publisher. Eventually, Doyle shortened the novel by a total of fifty pages and added an appendix.

SH   That seems to sum up the issue.

JW  You referred to the novel that was completed in June 1888.   It was The Mystery of Cloomber. The novel appeared in serial form between August and November 1888 in "The Pall Mall Gazette" before it was published by Ward and Downey in December 1888. It was based on the Theosophist concept of the 'chela' or a person who can travel through different dimensions. Does it shed any light on the Ripper murders?

SH  It indicates Doyle's state of mind prior to the writing of the Dear Boss letter. His thinking was disorganized and dazed. It appears to be a hollow, shallow tale of spiritualism.  It does not match the quality of research and writing displayed in his previous novel. There are obvious factual errors; such as, Buddhist monks who wear Muslim fezes. Doyle recognized that the novel was a mistake.

JW  Yet, the absurdity that it was accepted for publication before Micah Clarke would not have been lost on Doyle. The Mystery of Cloomber is the only novel excluded from the twenty-four volume Crowborough Edition of his fiction.

SH   The novel represents a trip down the Thames into "The Heart of Darkness".  As Dante wrote in Canto 12, "He cleft asunder in God's bosom, The heart that still upon the Thames is honoured".

JW   The three chelas seek revenge for the murder of a holy one. They torment the perpetrators for forty years.  Finally, they lead them down the Hole of Cree.  There is a kind of puzzle that says "Five have gone down, but only three have returned".  It may imply that the three chilas have returned to the light while the two murderers have been lost in a nether Hell.  Doyle seems to want his cake and eat it too for immaterial spirits leave material footprints.

SH   Doyle refers to Dante's Inferno.  Specifically, it refers to Canto XII at Circle 7, Round One of the Violent Against Neighbours. The poets Dante and Vergil descend into the chaos. One might say that Dante is a confidante of Vergil. They are met by three centaurs. The centaurs are guards to keep the souls submerged in the river of blood. One of the centaurs is Chiron who is known in mythology for his medical skills, but he was also the teacher of Achilles. He was famed as a surgeon and the teacher of Aesclipius.

JW  There are three centaurs. The Master is Chiron and the others are Nessus and Phobus. So five go down and three come back up. The Centaurs come back up and the poets go deeper.  We may equate Doyle with Chiron since they are both doctors and surgeons.

JW  The descent to the Hole of Cree represents a kind of evolutionary setback; wherein, man reverts more to his real animal self through his punishment. He becomes like the Centaur who is an imaginary animal and not part of scientific evolutionary development.

SH  One cannot help recalling the discovery of Piltdown man who had the brain of a man and the jaw of an ape. It provided the missing link between man and ape. The discovery was made near to where Doyle lived. He had an interest in amateur palaeontology. Coincidentally, he may have been visiting Malta at the time of a discovery of the fossilized remains of a hippopotamus in 1907.  One of the planted items at Piltdown was a hippopotamus tooth.

JW   Doyle's The Lost World was published in April 1912 and the Piltdown discovery was announced to the press in November. It would seem that the book would support the Piltdown discovery which was made on the Weald Plateau. In reference to the plateau of the lost world, it is said that an area "as large perhaps as Sussex has been lifted en bloc with all its living contents." It is said that in order to increase readership and make it seem more real he actually faked photos, maps and diagrams.  Actually, Doyle seriously recommended to the publisher that the book should be illustrated with photographs of himself disguised as Professor Challenger with black beard, adhesive eyebrows and wig.  In other words, this hoax began with The Lost World and continued with Piltdown man.

SH   In short, Doyle was perverting Darwin's evolutionary theory through the Piltdown hoax in order to discredit materialism. There was also an element of revenge in that the scientist Lankester had discredited his friend Doctor Henry Slade who was a spiritualist and now it was a chance for Doyle to get even.  He used his novel to lend credibility and set the “frame” of mind to the Piltdown hoax.

JW   Of course, it is neither the first nor the last hoax that he perpetrated.  In his early medical career about 1881, Doyle was cautioned by the Aston Police. He had sent out fake invitations to a Mayor's Ball as a practical joke.  Later, he championed the fake photographs of the Cottingley fairy hoax.

SH   The Piltdown hoax has some bearing on the Dear Boss letter which may have been a hoax, too. Doyle may have written the Dear Boss letter in collaboration with the actual murderer. It may have been intended to heighten the sense of terror and keep his readers on tenterhooks. Another motive was to discredit the scientific methods used by police detectives. They were unable to determine who wrote the letter or perpetrated the murder and so they looked inept. However, the author of the letter may have intentionally or unintentionally misdirected the police investigation because it was assumed the writer and Ripper were the same person.

JW  Is there an effort to discredit Darwin's theory?

SH   Indirectly. The letter writer seems to be someone who is not quite human but appears to have the instincts of an animal.  It is known that Doyle was upset with the way Ward Lock & Co. dealt with A Study in Scarlet.  It was not the Editor-in-Chief Professor George Thomas Bettany who approved of the novella, but rather his wife.  In this respect, Doyle may have felt slighted by the editor. By the way, the anthropologist had written a biographical study in The Life of Darwin's Great Writers Series of 1887.  Also, Doyle had requested royalties for his own work but was forced to sell copyright for only 25 pounds. The importance of the story was minimalized in two ways: publication was delayed for a year and it was included with a couple of other stories in a miscellany. Since it was not a book, it was not reviewed extensively. It was published again as an individual volume in July 1888, but again Doyle did not profit because he had relinquished the rights.

JW  Doyle also complained of the paltry sum offered his father for the drawings. He calls Ward Lock & Co. the epithet of "perfect Jews". This may not suggest prejudice, but does suggest the use of a stereo typecast.  In short, Doyle must have been exasperated by Bettany so that he would make every effort to change publishers and retain copyright of his future works. If he changed publishers he could also embarrass the editor-in-chief.

SH  Exactly.

JW   On a related issue, I would be more convinced that Conan Doyle was the instigator and perpetrator of the Dear Boss letter if you could show me examples of a hoax in his writings.

SH   Elementary.  I'll begin with the general and proceed to the specific. Generally speaking, the practice of spiritualism has been regarded at best as a parlour game and at worst as a hoax. In the latter category, many spiritualist mediums have been exposed as frauds. Perhaps if a person expressed a belief in spiritualism then it would be necessary to continually sort through those great number of mediums whom he suspected as fraudulent and a small minority of mediums he believed were genuine. He would understand the various ways hoaxes could be conducted.  Furthermore, if he were to write books or lecture to the general public then it would be natural for him to be on the defensive concerning hoaxes.  Conan Doyle explored an interest in spiritualism as early as 1881 and may have been fully converted by the mid 80's.  He expressed a dogmatic attitude toward spiritualism in his book The New Revelation when he said that it is either “absolute lunacy or it is a revolution in religious thought”. One might illustrate his views on spiritualism by exploring briefly his attitude toward Houdini. The master of escape seemed to perform tasks that defied reason. He admitted to Conan Doyle that his techniques could be explained in a normal fashion. Yet, the spiritualist refused to believe Houdini's own admission. He sought other worldly answers. Furthermore, he expounded the view that Houdini may have been able to alter his material state and convert himself into protoplasm in order to manage the escapes. It seems Conan Doyle is not only deluding himself, but is deifying spiritualism. It is a hoax whether he knows it or not. Let's look again at The Adventure of the Cardboard Box. I remarked to the effect that I was constantly in the habit of following the unspoken thoughts of my companion. You expressed incredulity.  In other words, you thought I was performing a hoax or funny game. It was necessary for me to explain my line of reasoning.

JW   I admit that I was sceptical about the matter until I heard your explanations.

SH  Now, I will deal with the specific. The case was no less than my death. It seems everyone believed that I met my demise in The Adventure of the Final Problem. They were fooled.  Here I am. Now if I were to show that the DB letter was a hoax then the best example would be to refer to a letter that was a hoax in CD's adventures; so I'll continue with the same case. You will remember that you received a letter from your landlord regarding a lady who experienced a hemorrhage.  You were asked to see her.  You had scruples about leaving me; nevertheless, you responded to the request. The letter was a hoax. It was intended to throw you off the track and separate you from me. I'll now quote what I said to you. "Indeed, if I may make a full confession to you, I was convinced that the letter from Meiringen was a hoax, and I allowed you to depart on the errand under the persuasion that some development of the sort would follow".

JW  That answers my concerns.

SW  Many characteristics of the DB letter have been investigated.  It may be, however, that the folding of the letter fooled and has been ignored.  The small size of the envelope limited the number of ways it could be folded.

JW   Could the writer have purposefully chosen a small sized envelope with this view in mind?

SH   It is probable. The letter had been folded twice to produce a Christian cross as the dominant pattern. Of course, both age and refolding has accentuated its appearance.  At the time of the murders, the cross pattern would not have been so obvious to an untrained eye.

JW  What is the significance of the cross?

SH   The cross symbol refers to the next murders of the Ripper.  There would be a double murder committed on a single night. The fold pattern reflects the location of the murders on a directional grid of north, south, east and west. The pattern is also a cross. The Ripper mocks the cross. The centre of the cross may be regarded as the heart if one were to relate it to the human form.

JW  What is the significance of the heart?

SH   The heart is removed in the fifth murder. In the original Christian cross the intersection is at the heart. This explains the symbol of the cross in the letter.  As time developed, the intersection moved toward the head. This may reflect the development of Christianity itself or the movement from feelings to thoughts.

JW   However, this letter implies four murders and not a fifth.

SH   It may also refer to the fifth murder. Notice the apex of the cross. There is a date of 25 Sept. 1888.   The vertical line runs through the number 5. This may indicate that there will be five murders.  Will five go down and three come back through a medium?   The number 2 may indicate that either two murders have been committed or more likely that there will be two murders in the near future.  It is clear that a further investigation is needed of the letter in terms of fold patterns.  For example, is it merely a coincidence that the top word is 'on' and the word down at the bottom is 'off'?  The word 'on' is used elsewhere in the expression 'down on'.  The reversal is obvious.  The phrase “down on” would represent a profanation of the cross. The word 'down' of the phrase 'down on' is found significantly on the vertical line of the cross.

JW  All of this is mere coincidence unless the Ripper planned his letter on this grid.

SH   The cross pattern may be planned. He wrote the letter by carefully positioning key words and numbers. It might have taken him several drafts and tracing is also a possibility.

JW  It's almost unbelievable.

SH   What if we were to go further in terms of the placement of words on the cross symbol? Let's look at the last letter of each word at the five points of the cross. The words are "on, off, job, to and the". The last letters are therefore n,f,b,o and e.  One of the more interesting phrases that can be formed is 'no fob'. A fob  is a strap, ribbon or chain attached to a watch.  If we use the word 'fob' along with the word 'off' found at the bottom of the vertical line then we have the verb 'fob off'. This means to put off with a trick, to pass off as genuine or to put aside. This indicates that the letter may be intended as a trick to throw off police.

JW  Do the folds tell us anything else?

SH  There is a third fold pattern. This pattern is more problematical for one reason: the letter may have been folded by another person at another time. For example, a journalist or police officer may have again folded the letter.

JW   If the letter was folded intentionally for a third time by the writer then what does it indicate?

SH   The top right hand corner is folded down in a triangular pattern. The result on the front of the letter is a curious set of two convex lines which if extended might then form an oval shape.  It may have an occult significance in that it represents a vesica piscisor form resembling a fish.

JW  It is apparent that the writer of the DB letter was well acquainted with the newspaper business. The destination of the letter was the Central News Agency or a place whose news would reach many newspapers. This has lent credence to the belief that the writer was a journalist.

JW  The note forwarded to the police describing the DB letter was unsigned, but may have been in the handwriting of Tom Bulling who was a journalist. The CNA certainly benefitted by the publicity. This led Chief Inspector Littlechild to conclude that Bulling was the originator and his boss John Moore the inventor.  I see though that the note is not folded in the same way as the DB letter.

JW  Donstan classified himself as a journalist, too.

SH   Donstan was paid by the piece that was published by publications such as the Pall Mall Gazette. It would have been out of character for him to have made a submission for which he was not paid.

JW   Is there someone else like a journalist?

SH   A writer and public crusader may fit the bill.  He may write to various outlets in order to express his viewpoints on various issues.  For example, he might want to express views on prostitution and also policemen.  He would be familiar with the CNA. He would not care about direct reimbursement. However, he might be compensated indirectly through sales of his other publications which would benefit by the publicity.

JW  Do you have someone in mind?

SH  Arthur Conan Doyle. He wrote hundreds of letters to newspapers in order to sway public opinion. The topics varied. Let me tell you a short story that is apocryphal. His medical practice  had been slow. One day there was an accident in front of his business. He submitted an article to the newspaper describing the accident and his treatment of the victim. Business picked up. It would not be out of character then if he were to write a letter to the CNA in order to promote his career as a professional writer of detective fiction. The sobriquet of Jack the Ripper crystallized the public's interest in the Whitechapel murders and in the genre of detective fiction.

JW  I would not say the case is closed, but rather open to further investigations in the areas of the DB letter, possible relationship of Donstan and Doyle, re-examination of the fifth murder in particular, and a study of the life of Doyle and all his letters ie. to mother, Dr. Waller, others and to the newspapers.

SH  Consider a doctor who was raised in a religious environment as a boy, who rebelled at the authoritarianism and who gave up religion for science. In other words, he changed from a belief in religion to a belief in materialism. Yet, he couldn't quite give up his belief in life after death and so he became a spiritualist. He asked Bell in front of a packed auditorium if the cadaver has a soul. As a scientist, he wanted to prove everything. He took nothing for granted. He may have conducted experiments upon himself like taking various drugs and submitting his findings to medical journals.

But the ultimate experiment is conducted in a real life environment. He wants to communicate by seance to the departed prostitutes. He wants to see if there is life after death. He believes in telepathy and theosophy. He said "I have seen my mother and my nephew, young Oscar Hornung as plainly as I ever saw them in life" in Memories and Adventures.

He is not a particularly successful doctor. He turns to writing, but is not really recognized as a serious writer in the historical field. Instead, he achieves notoriety for writing pulp fiction detective stories.

He is upset with the publisher in the way A Study in Scarlet was treated.  He seeks a kind of revenge by changing publishers and by popularizing the horror genre. The Dear Boss letter ignites the public interest in detective fiction stories.

His father is institutionalized and he worries that he, too, is succumbing to a hereditary disease. He is influenced by those who are steeped in the occult and magical practices.  His first novella is a macabre tale of bloodlust. He finishes a novel that is somewhat autobiographical which has the seeds within it of bloody murder. Another novel is written as a trip to Hell and references are made to Circle 7 where murderers are punished. His mental health is deteriorating when he enters a phase of depression. Typically, he became depressed after the completion of a novel and perhaps more so after this one. When he writes The Dear Boss letter, he becomes his alter ego--the little wolf.

The letter draws on many ideas expressed in three of his novels; namely,  A Study in Scarlet, The Mystery of Cloomber and Micha Clarke.  Some ideas were known only to the writer or to a select group of publishers.  Those ideas expressed in Micah Clarke were not published in the public realm before the murders.

He delusorily regards the letter as a hoax or one of his "funny little games".  It seems Doyle perpetrated the Dear Boss letter hoax because he guessed who the murderer was, or he knew who the murderer was, or he identified in some way with the murderer, or he collaborated with the murderer. 


1.  Booth, Martin, The Doctor The Detective & Arthur Conan Doyle.Coronet Books, Hodder and Stoughton, London: 1997.

2.  Costello, Peter, Conan Doyle: Detective, Carroll & Graf Publishers, New York: 2006.

3.  Doyle, Arthur Conan, Ed. J. Lellenberg, D. Stashower & C. Foley, A Life in Letters, The Penguin Press, New York: 2007

4.  Doyle, Arthur Conan, Memories and Adventures. Wordsworth Editions Limited, Hertfordshire: 2007.

5.  Doyle, Arthur Conan, The Complete Classic Series of Sherlock Holmes. CIP, Beijing: 2007.

6.  Doyle, Arthur Conan, The Stark Munro Letters, Quiet Vision Publishing Inc., USA: 2000.

7.  Freud, Sigmund, ed. Robert Byck, Cocaine Papers, The Stonehill Publishing Company & Robert Byck, New York: 1974.

8.  Higham, Charles, The Adventures of Conan Doyle, W. W. Norton & Company Inc., New York: 1976.

9.  Edwards, Ivor, Jack the Ripper's Black Magic Rituals.
John Blake Publishing Limited: London: 2003.

10.   Evans, Stewart P., Keith Skinner, Jack the Ripper: Letters From Hell. Sutton Publishing, Gloucestershire: 2001.

11.  Odell, Robin, Ripperology, The Kent State University Press: Kent: 2006.

12.  Pascal, Janet B., Arthur Conan Doyle: Beyond Baker Street, Oxford University Press, New York: 2000.

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