On 27 September 1888 the Central News Agency received a letter signed by Jack the Ripper. Addressed Dear Boss and dated two days earlier it was not the first letter to claim responsibility for the series of murders in the East End but was the first to give the unidentified killer the name by which he is known to history.
On 1 October a postcard was received, which referred to the letter and the murders of Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes on 30 September. Both communications were made public in the belief that they were written by the killer.
Following this, hundreds of letters were sent to the press and the police, claiming responsibility or taunting the authorities. The general consensus is that none were written by the killer, with the Dear Boss letter and postcard being hoaxed by journalists. At least one confessed and another was named by Chief Inspector Littlechild in private correspondence to the journalist George Sims, an advocate of the hoaxer theory.
The researchers who claim that Jack the Ripper did not exist are partly right. Without the name it is unlikely that his crimes would be remembered.
Paul Williams is a writer best known for his study of the Jack the Ripper suspects.