100 Ghosts: Spring Heeled Jack



This helmet wearing, claw handed urban legend terrorised the streets (and roofs) of Victorian Britain, with alleged sightings all over the country. Though his reported appearance varied (ten feet tall, fiery eyes, breathing blue and white flames, caped, hatted, helmeted, garbed in white, oilskins, gentlemanlike) his one consistent characteristic was the apparently supernatural ability to leap enormous, impossible distances to evade capture, even possessing the ability to jump over buildings and trees. His victims were usually women and his claws were sometimes used to tear at their clothing. It seems extraordinary that something so easily explained was obfuscated into the supposed mystery he became - surely it’s not that big a leap (sorry) to imagine that a sexual predator could also be pretty good at climbing walls and jumping off roofs in order to make his escape, but then the Victorians were also the pioneers of phrenology and spiritualism, so not always the most logical or rational of folk. And it’s always handy to have a bogeymen story at the ready to keep those pesky women in their place (indoors).

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