RipperCon in Baltimore, April 8-10, 2016

Alfred Hitchcock, Baltimore, Civil War, Edgar Allan Poe, Ivor Novello, Jack the Ripper, Jews, London, Marie Belloc Lowndes, Mysteries, Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Lodger, True crime, Victorian Period, Whitechapel Murders, silent motion pictures, stage and screen No Comments »

A brand new Jack the Ripper conference will be held in the U.S. this April after an
absence of several years of such conferences on U.S. soil!  Get ready for RipperCon!
DEADLINE TO REGISTER MARCH 31!  RipperCon headed by famed Ripperologist
Martin Fido will be unique in being held in the historic heart of Baltimore, the Mount
Vernon district, at the Maryland Historical Society & the Mt Vernon Baltimore Hotel,
within sight of the city’s 200-year-old Washington Monument, the first monument to
honor the nation’s first President. Also making the event “different” and, might we
say, unmissable is that in addition to the Whitechapel murders we will cover the
mystery of Edgar Allan Poe’s mysterious death in Baltimore in 1849 plus the relation
of Sherlock Holmes and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to the Ripper crimes. To cap off the
weekend we have a 4-hour bus tour of Baltimore to sites associated with noted Ripper
suspect “Doctor” Francis Tumblety, the Pinkertons, John Wilkes Booth, and Edgar Allan
Poe.  We’ll visit Poe’s grave and his house on Amity Street, & “Nutshell Studies of”
Unexpected Death” — 1930/1940’s dioramas of murder scenes now housed
at the Maryland Coroner’s office.

Does this sound enticing to you?  If you like true crime, Jack the Ripper, Victorian
history, Sherlock Holmes, mysteries, or Edgar Allan Poe you can’t afford to miss out!
Complete information is at

The base hotel for RipperCon, the Mt Vernon Baltimore Hotel, was originally built as
housing for the Peabody Conservatory of Music, named for merchant and philanthropist
George Peabody, the Massachusetts-born merchant who built multi-story dwellings for
the poor of Liverpool & London’s East End and was honored for his good works by Queen
Victoria herself.  Is it any wonder then that the same statue of Peabody can be found
in London and in Baltimore!  In fact the statue in Mt Vernon is a replica of one next
to the Royal Exchange in the City of London, executed between 1867 and 1869, unveiled
in July 1869 shortly before Peabody’s death.

Statue to George Peabody, Mount Vernon, Baltimore

Here is the schedule for RipperCon, April 8-10 in Baltimore:

Friday, April 8

9:00 am to 12:00 noon. Registration at the Mt Vernon Baltimore Hotel;

thereafter, registration at Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) France Hall.

1:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Talks in France Hall, MdHS –

1:00 pm. Introduction & Welcome by M/C’s Robert Anderson & Ally Ryder

1:05 pm. Martin Fido, “Ripperology and Anti-Semitism”

2:00 pm. David Sterritt, “The Ripper, the Lodger, Hitchcock’s Existential Outsider”

3:00 pm.  Mikita Brottman, “The Yorkshire Ripper”

4:00 pm. Bruce Goldfarb,  “Nutshell Studies of Unexpected Death

5:00 pm. Michael Hawley, “Dr. Francis Tumblety - Amongst the Best Suspects”

6:30 pm.  Gathering at the Mt Vernon Baltimore Hotel.

Saturday, April 9 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Talks in France Hall, MdHS –9:00 am. Charles Tumosa, ”The Forensic Time Machine: Looking Backward10:00 am. Panel on Jack the Ripper Suspects featuring Robert Anderson, Michael Hawley, and Martin Fido.

11:00 am. Robert Anderson, “Long Island Serial Killer

12:00 noon. Lunch in France Hall. Trivia contest including special book prizes.

1:00 pm. Janis Wilson & Chris George, “The Ripper, Sherlock Holmes, and  

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

2:00 pm. Panel discussion on “True Crime versus Fictional Crime” with Robert

Anderson, Mikita Brottman, and David Sterritt, moderated by Janis Wilson

3:00 pm. Discussion with speakers & audience on “The State of Ripperology Today”

4:00 pm. Chris George, “The Last Days of Edgar Allan Poe — Murder or Something Else?”

6:00 pm. Banquet at the Mt Vernon Baltimore Hotel, followed by a performance

of “Poe’s Last Stanza” by C. J. Crowe.

Sunday, April 10

9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Bus tour of Baltimore including sites associated

with Dr. Tumblety, the Pinkertons, and the Booth family. Visit to the

grave of Edgar Allan Poe and the Poe House, including a special visit to “

“Nutshell Studies” in Maryland Coroners’ Office. Space limited. Book soon.

Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849): The circumstances of his mysterious death in

Baltimore in October 1849 have never been sufficiently explained.

For complete information on RipperCon, go to TO REGISTER MARCH 31! DON’T MISS OUT!

The Lodger: From Page to Stage to Screen

Alfred Hitchcock, Ivor Novello, Jack the Ripper, London, Marie Belloc Lowndes, The Lodger, Uncategorized, silent motion pictures, stage and screen, theater 3 Comments »

 Marie Belloc Lowndes


Marie Belloc Lowndes (1868–1947)

Marie Belloc Lowndes published her first version of The Lodger
about a Ripper-like killer named “The Avenger”,  as a short story in
McClure’s Magazine in 1911. By 1913 she made it a full-length novel.
It  is clear that the ’orrible murders were taking place in Whitechapel;
the link to the Ripper is unmistakeable.

Mr and Mrs Bunting suspect that their lodger, Mr Sleuth, is “The Avenger.” 
But whether Sleuth really is the murderer is unclear: the story focuses
on the Buntings’ possibly unfounded terror rather than the crimes.   

The novel was adapted for the stage as a comedy entitled Who Is He? by
by prolific writer Horace Annesley Vachell (1861–1955). It played at the
Haymarket Theatre in London in 1916 with Howard Ainley in the title role. 

In January 1917, the play was done in New York with Lionel Atwill as
the lead. It received mixed reviews when it opened on 8 January 1917 at
the Maxine Elliott Theatre. The critic in the New York Times felt that
Atwill played the role in a “hammer-and-tongs” fashion little suited for
what he termed “such slight stuff” as The Lodger.

Overall, the critic declared the show to be “highly amusing” and that
Beryl Mercer as Mrs Bunting outshone the lead actor.  He said she was
“enormously laughable as the tender-hearted but suspicious landlady.”
It closed after 56 performances. Atwill would go on to enjoy a long
career playing roles in B-movies.

Ten years later, the play was brought to the big screen by Alfred Hitchock
in his first major film, using the same title as Belloc Lowndes’ novel, The
Lodger: A Story of the London Fog
. The significance of the subtitle is that
it gives the notion that the crimes were committed in London’s notorious fog,
which Ripperologists know is nonsense, don’t we?  In any case, the idea of
London’s stereotypical fog only added to the myth of Jack the Ripper.

Hitchcock’s version of The Lodger was the 1927 silent classic starring Ivor
Novello. He played the role in enigmatic fashion, alarming the Buntings
while charming their blond daughter, Daisy. As with Hitchcock’s handling
of Cary Grant later in Suspicion and To Catch a Thief, the director toyed
with the audience and hinted at a dark side to the character, although
Novello’s character would turn out a good guy on the trail of the killer.

Hitchcock said, “I had seen a play called Who Is He? based on Mrs. Belloc
Lowndes’ novel The Lodger. The action was set in a house that took in
roomers and the landlady wondered whether her new boarder was Jack the
Ripper or not. I treated it very simply, purely from her point of view.”
He disliked the later talkie versions of The Lodger made by other
directors, because they made the story too complicated. 


Marie Belloc Lowndes, “The Lodger,” in McClure’s Magazine, Volume 36, January 1911, pp. 266–77.

Marie Belloc Lowndes, The Lodger. London: Methuen, 1913. 

Mark Whitehead and Miriam Rivett, Jack the Ripper. Harpenden, Hertfordshire: Pocket Essentials, 2006, p. 67

Denis Meikle, Jack the Ripper: The Murders and the Movies. Richmond, Surrey: Reynolds and Hearn Ltd., 2002, pp. 44–49.

Gary Coville and Patrick Lucanio, Jack the Ripper: His Life and Crimes in Popular Entertainment. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1999, p. 24.

 “‘The Lodger’ Proves Highly Amusing,” New York Times, January 9, 1917.Ivor Novello in Hitchcock’s silent classic film The Lodger (1927) Ivor Novello in Hitchcock's The Lodger

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