Sometimes referred to as the 'From Hell Letter'.
Communication received by George Lusk, president of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, at his home (1 Tollet Street, Alderney Road, Mile End) on 16th October 1888. It arrived in the evening post in a parcel which contained a portion of human kidney. The letter was not contained in an envelope and the postmark on the parcel was not distinct enough to distinguish whether it was posted in the E or EC districts
I send you half the Kidne I took from one woman and prasarved it for you tother piece I fried and ate it was very nise. I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer
signed Catch me when you can Mishter Lusk
Reception and Observations
Lusk originally believed the letter and kidney portion to be a hoax, but was later moved to have the kidney examined. The letter itself was somewhat eclipsed by the sensation surrounding the enclosed organ. Following this rather disturbing situation, Lusk mentioned to the press that he had received a postcard a day or two before which read
Say Boss, - You seem rare frightened. Guess I'd like to give you fits, but can't stop time enough to let you box of toys play copper games with me, but hope to see you when I don't hurry too much. - Goodbye, Boss. Mr. Lusk, Head Vigilance Committee, Alderney-street, Mile-end. The handwriting in this postcard was apparently the same as that in the Lusk Letter.
Also, a Miss Emily Marsh claimed that shortly after 1.00am on 15th October, a man entered her father's leather shop in Jubilee Street and remarked on the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee's reward poster on display. He spoke with an Irish accent and asked for the address of George Lusk, which Miss Marsh supplied to him from a newspaper, though she did not give him the house number. He noted it down in a pocket book.
With this in mind, the address on the parcel sent to Lusk did not have the house number on it and the letter appears to show spellings with suggest staged-Irish, namely 'Sor' and Mishter' (although the word 'Sor' can be read as the normal 'Sir', taking into account the manner of writing the letter 'r'). Thomas Mann, a charter member of the World Association of Document Examiners analysed the handwriting and suggested it was in the author's usual style and that he was semi-literate with elementary copybook habits. He would also have had little familiarity with the process of writing.
'Graphologist' C.M. MacLeod suggested that the author was aged between 20 and 45 years, possibly a heavy drinker and self-confident. He would have been cunning and have possesed a mind which was capable of any outrage as well as seemingly holding down a regular job.
The possibility of the letter being a genuine communication from the murderer rests squarely on whether the accompanying kidney truly came from the body of Catherine Eddowes. For a more dedicated discussion of this, see Lusk Kidney.
The Lusk Letter has been missing for many years. The last official information regarding its whereabouts was on 20th-24th October 1888 when it was photographed by City Police and then returned to the Metropolitan Police. Although there are rumours of its subsequent whereabouts, none of the claims have any supporting evidence; this includes it being in the possession of a Canadian collector in the 1960s. A facsimile was first published in an article by Professor Francis Camps in 1966 and a copy is on display in the London Hospital museum in Newark Street, Whitechapel.
- The London of Jack the Ripper: Then and Now; Robert Clack & Philip Hutchinson (Breedon 2007)
- Report by Chief Inspector Swanson, 6th November 1888 (HO 144/221/A49301C, ff.184-94)
- The Times, 19th October 1888
- Daily Telegraph, 20th October 1888
- 'The Ripper and the Poet: A Comparison of Handwriting'; Thomas J. Mann, WADE Journal (June 1975)
- The Jack the Ripper A-Z, Paul Begg, Martin Fido, Keith Skinner (Headline 1996)
- Report by Inspector James McWilliam, 27th October 1888 (HO 144/221/A49301C, ff.162-70)
- Comments by Stewart P Evans, Casebook Forums, March 2009
- London Hospital Gazette, April 1966
See also Letters From Hell; Stewart P Evans & Keith Skinner (Sutton 2001)