Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dark Annie

This is the second piece in my Jack the Ripper series.

The brutal murders by Saucy Jack have been debated and remembered, almost glorified, for the 125 years since he killed at least five women in the impoverished section of Victorian London, known as Whitechapel.

His victims are little remembered or, oftentimes, completely altered in the fictionalized world of Jack the Ripper literature.

His victims were all prostitutes.  They were alcoholics.   They were eking out the most tenuous of existences in a time and place that gave little thought or concern for the poor, especially women.   Life had been hard on them, but they were surviving.  

They got up every morning from a pallet rented only for the night and went back out into a world where they had to earn money daily to pay for their food, their drink, and another hard pallet on another crowded floor if they didn't want to sleep on the cold street.  They were struggling against difficult odds.   They did what they had to do to make it through another day.

Jack murdered women that had already been victimized by  their time and their circumstances.  They deserve better from us.  

Dark Annie (aka Eliza Ann Smith) was born in 1841. In 1869, she married coachman John Chapman. They seemed to have gotten along well enough, living in London and having three children together, although their only son John was disabled.  Annie's husband took a post as a coachman in Windsor, and then their 12 year old daughter died shortly thereafter of meningitis.

Both turned to drink, more and more heavily. By 1884, they separated. Her husband died in 1886, leaving her without financial support so Annie took to supporting herself via prostitution.

By 1888, Annie was herself dying of a lung and brain disease but she continued to eke out an existence in the dark world of Whitechapel until her murder on September 8, 1888 in a brutal and horrific style.

Annie Chapman, you were haunted by events in your life.  You loved and lost two of your children.  You were dying of a slow and painful disease.  I know that you deserved a chance to make your peace with this world before you left it.  You deserved better than a brutal death on a dark night.  Good bye, Dark Annie.  Rest in peace.

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