Peter Haining – The Legend And Bizarre Crimes Of Spring Heeled Jack
Posted by demonik on June 21, 2009
Peter Haining – The Legend And Bizarre Crimes Of Spring Heeled Jack (Muller, 1977)
“Out of the darkness sprang a huge, cloaked figure. In an instant the man had thrown aside his cloak, revealing a hideous and frightful appearance. Blue and white flames shot from his mouth, and his eyes appeared like balls of fire. The young girl who witnessed all this was so terrified that she fainted right away.”
This is just one of dozens of contemporary reports of the bizarre criminal who for over sixty years held the British population in a grip of fear. A man known only as “SPRING HEELED JACK”.
During the period of his reign of terror, this frightening, agile figure who attacked unwary travellers and pounced on terrified girls and women – and may have been responsible for several murders – attracted as many headlines and alarmed the authorities as much as his later mysterious compatriot in crime, Jack the Ripper.
From the late 1830’s he confounded the police, outwitted all attempts by the Army to catch him, and even boldly confronted law officers -slapping them across the face with his `ice cold hands’ before disappearing into the darkness with his eerie laugh ringing behind him….
Today, though, while Jack the Ripper is the subject of book after book, “SPRING HEELED JACK” has become just a name associated with anyone who jumps well. His real story is unknown. This is the first book to examine the legend in detail and throw new light on who the man behind the mask might have been.
Peter Haining’s fascinating study not only examines the reports of his activities – and suggests that more than one person adopted the disguise, including a famous nobleman -but discusses his fame as a star bf Victorian melodrama, and considers some of the strange theories that have been advanced about him -including one that he was really a spaceman!
The book is fully illustrated with remarkable engravings and photographs and includes a special section from one of the famous “Penny Dreadful” serials which featured the legend of the extraordinary “SPRING HEELED JACK”.