Visitors to the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool who look at the books on sale at the exhibition of Walter Sickert (1860–1942) might be forgiven for thinking that the painter’s greatest achievement was being named as a suspect in the Jack the Ripper murders. Certainly, he was fascinated by the murder of a prostitute in Camden Town in 1907 (still known to aficionados of English murders as the Camden Town Murder), and he painted a room alleged to be the Ripper’s bedroom. But one might as well propose that Hilaire Belloc was Jack the Ripper because his sister, Mrs. Belloc Lowndes, wrote by far the most convincing fictional account of the murderer and must have obtained her information from someone, her brother being easily to hand—unless she herself were the Ripper, of course.

 

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