“The pitfalls and Surprises of Researching a Lost Story” (reflections on the difficulties in researching and telling the story of Catherine Eddowes) written after the event is here.
A proposed women’s history museum on Cable Street E1 turned out to be an excuse to cash in on the popularity of a misogynist killer. Although serenity is one of my aims in life, I allowed myself to get riled by the museums’ constant lies, startlingly offensive “fun” activities and shamelessly fake quotes:
More EVEN than the lies, I was just sick of the way that the accident of death should overshadow someone’s entire life.
If this person was my mother, sister or friend I would not want her to be remembered for the name of her brutal murderer- but for her life. Catherine Eddowes- like the others- was buried in a public grave and only two people attended her funeral.
And so… I have now researched as much as I can about the fabulous spirited life of Catherine Eddowes. She has become a real person to me. I have deliberately avoided reading about the murder and looking at the horrific autopsy photographs. (This has been almost impossible given the nature of Google… but I have made every effort!) I will tell her story as a joyful tale and not a tragedy.
I am deeply indebted to members of the Whitechapel Society for their generous help with some of the more difficult research.
I was thrilled to be asked to tell this story as part of the pop up “East End Women’s Museum” (more on them below) in the beautiful surroundings of St George’s in the East. I am also delighted to be joined by the creative powerhouse John Constable of Crossbones.
So, on the evening of 8th July 2016, we will have storytelling, some poetry and song, candles and an opportunity to offer some flowers.
It will be a “pay what you can” event and you can book your place by emailing me firstname.lastname@example.org
Postscript (added June 11th 2016)
I’ve been advertising the event with this composite image of a smiling 1880s woman and Catherine Eddowes’ plaque:
As a few people have pointed out, this is not actually a photo of Eddowes! The only photo we have of her is post mortem and I obviously didn’t want to use that… but in fact that’s not the point. I chose the smiling woman as a poetic opposite to the grimy depressing images we have of the 1880s “victims” …thus it’s is not meant to be any particular woman, rather an expression of life not death.
On the other hand, the story I’m creating will be referring to as much historical fact as I can uncover. I guess the ideal would be to have had an artist create a new portrait of Eddowes. Maybe someone would like to do that?
I am indebted to @rippercast who drew my attention to this lovely photo of Eddowes great-granddaughter …it is also in its own way a fitting image for the event. The photo come from the book “the Victims of Jack the Ripper” by Neal Stubbings Sheldon.
Here’s a blog from Time Out about the East End Women’s History Museum. Everyone should go and see it!
Here’s a blog from the Londonist about the women’s history museum poster having been vandalised, big surprise to noone.
Postscript (added March 28 2019)
Thank you to ENO for addressing the story with “Jack the Ripper: The Women of Whitechapel”