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The "Dear Boss" letter was a message allegedly written by the notorious Victorian serial killer known as Jack the Ripper. It was postmarked and received on 27 September 1888, by the Central News Agency of London. It was forwarded to Scotland Yard on 29 September.[1]


The first page of the "Dear Boss" letter
The second page of the "Dear Boss" letter

Written in red ink, the message, like most alleged Ripper letters that followed, contains spelling and punctuation errors. It reads:

Dear Boss,

I keep on hearing the police have caught me but they wont fix me just yet. I have laughed when they look so clever and talk about being on the right track. That joke about Leather Apron gave me real fits. I am down on whores and I shant quit ripping them till I do get buckled. Grand work the last job was. I gave the lady no time to squeal. How can they catch me now. I love my work and want to start again. You will soon hear of me with my funny little games. I saved some of the proper red stuff in a ginger beer bottle over the last job to write with but it went thick like glue and I cant use it. Red ink is fit enough I hope ha. ha. The next job I do I shall clip the ladys ears off and send to the police officers just for jolly wouldn't you. Keep this letter back till I do a bit more work, then give it out straight. My knife's so nice and sharp I want to get to work right away if I get a chance. Good Luck. Yours truly
Jack the Ripper

Dont mind me giving the trade name

PS Wasnt good enough to post this before I got all the red ink off my hands curse it. No luck yet. They say I'm a doctor now. ha ha[2]

Police responseEdit

Initially the letter was considered to be just one of many hoaxes,[3] but when the body of Catherine Eddowes was found with one earlobe severed on 30 September, the writer's promise to "clip the lady's ears off" attracted attention. The Metropolitan Police published handbills with facsimiles of it and the Saucy Jacky postcard (which had referred to the earlier message and was received before the first became public knowledge) hoping someone would recognise the handwriting, but nothing came of this effort. Many newspapers also reprinted the text in whole or in part. These two messages gained worldwide notoriety after their publication. It was the first time the "Jack the Ripper" name had been used to refer to the killer, and the term captured the imagination of the public. Soon, hundreds of other letters claiming to be from "Jack the Ripper" were received, most copying key phrases from these letters.[1]

Later eventsEdit

After the murders, police officials stated that they believed this letter and the postcard were hoaxes by a local journalist. One journalist is reported to have confessed that he had written it and other messages purported to be from the Ripper in order "to keep the business alive".[4]

These suspicions were not well publicised, and the idea that the killer had sent messages taunting the police became one of the enduring legends of the Ripper case. Modern scholars are divided on which, if any, of the letters should be considered genuine, but the "Dear Boss" letter is one of three named most frequently as potentially having been written by the killer. A number of authors have tried to advance their theories by comparing handwriting samples of their suspects to the writing found in this letter.[1]

Like many items related to the Ripper case, the "Dear Boss" letter disappeared from the police files not long after the investigation ended. The letter may have been kept as a souvenir by one of the investigating officers.[5] It was returned anonymously to the Metropolitan Police in 1987, whereupon Scotland Yard recalled all the documents from their file from the Public Record Office, now The National Archives, at Kew. The return of the documents was announced in 1988.

In 1993 the handwriting of the Dear Boss letter was compared to that of the purported diary of James Maybrick. The report noted that the "characteristics of the Dear Boss letter follow closely upon the Round Hand writing style of the time and exhibit a good writing skill."[4]

In 2018 a forensic linguistic analysis found strong linguistic evidence suggesting that this letter and the Saucy Jacky postcard were written by the same person.[6]


  1. ^ a b c Sugden, Philip (2002). The Complete History of Jack the Ripper. New York: Carroll & Graf. pp. 260–270. ISBN 978-0-7867-0932-8.
  2. ^ Casebook: Jack the Ripper article on the Ripper letters
  3. ^ Jack the Ripper: An Encyclopedia ISBN 978-1-553-45428-1 p. 159
  4. ^ a b Joe Nickell, Real or Fake: Studies in Authentication, University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, 2009. pp.44-7.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Nini, Andrea (September 2018). "An authorship analysis of the Jack the Ripper letters". Digital Scholarship in the Humanities. 33 (3): 621–636. doi:10.1093/llc/fqx065.