The name given to a murderer who, between 1888 and 1891, killed and eviscerated several prostitutes (at least five, possibly more) in the Whitechapel area of London. Attempts to guess his identity have included a Harley Street surgeon, a mad midwife, a Russian anarchist, the duke of Clarence (1864–92), and J. K. Stephen. He has been the subject of many novels and films, including Mrs Belloc Lowndes's The Lodger (1913) and Colin Wilson's Ritual in the Dark (1960), in which he appears as a homosexual sadist, and his presence is also felt in the works of Peter Ackroyd and Iain Sinclair. See, The Complete History of Jack the Ripper (2002).
From The Oxford Companion to English Literature in Oxford Reference.