Holmes and the Ripper

Participants in a Ripper walking tour gather at the historic Ten Bells pub in Commercial Street in London's East End. Photo by Steven Doyle.

Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper never interact in the canon stories, despite the fact that the Ripper murders were hugely discussed in London news and society around the same time the first Holmes stories were published. For whatever reason, Arthur Conan Doyle chose not to tackle this infamous real-world case in Holmes’ world. Many writers since then have brought the two together in the form of fan fiction, pastiches, parodies, and even video games. You can find more information below, in this bibliography complied by Adrian Nebbett, about the mystery that has captivated the world since the Victorian era and the stories that bring Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper together.

Holmes investigates the Ripper murders

  • A Study in Terror by Ellery Queen, 1966
  • Murder by Decree by Robert Weverka, 1979 (both of these were adaptations of movies of the same name)
  • The Last Sherlock Holmes Story by Michael Dibdin, 1978
  • The Whitechapel Horrors by Edward B Hanna, 1992
  • The Mycroft Memoranda by Ray Walsh, 1984
  • Chapel Noir by Carole Nelson Douglas, 2001
  • Bloodguilty by Raymond Thor, 1997
  • Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street by William S Baring-Gould, 1962
  • The World of Sherlock Holmes by Michael Harrison, 1973
  • "The Case Of Baker Street Dozen" by Arthur Douglas (in Crime Wave: World's Winning Crime Stories, 1981 Introduced by Desmond Bagley, 1981)
  • Whitechapel: The Final Stand of Sherlock Holmes by Bernard J. Schaffer, 2011
  • Dust and Shadow by Lyndsay Faye, 2009
  • Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper, Anonymous (translated by Joseph Lovece), 2014. This is a translation of the anonymous Spanish pulp Sherlock Holmes: Jack, el Destripador. An earlier, highly abridged translation by Anthony Boucher, of the same story, appeared in The Harlot Killer, edited by Allan Barnard, 1953.
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Unauthorized Biography by Nick Rennison, 2005
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Whitechapel Vampire by Dean P. Turnbloom, 2012

. . . but turns down requests to take on the case

  • The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes by Michael and Mollie Hardwick, 1970 (again adapted from the movie, though this scene was cut from the released version)
  • Good Morning, Irene by Carole Nelson Douglas, 1990

Other novels/stories linking Holmes and the Ripper, to a greater or lesser extent

  • The Strange Adventures of Charlotte Holmes by Hilary Bailey, 1994. (Holmes's sister takes on the Ripper case.)
  • An East Wind Coming by Arthur Byron Cover, 1979. (The Consulting Detective and the Good Doctor tackle the Ripper millions of years in the future.)
  • A Samba For Sherlock by Jo Soares, 1995 (The novel ends with the suggestion that Holmes's adversary in Brazil goes on to become the Ripper.)
  • The Book Of Changes by R. H. W. Dillard, 1974. (A Sherlockian detective's life is changed by his discovery of Holmes's involvement in the Ripper affair.)
  • Druid's Blood by Esther M. Friesner, 1988. (Set in an alternate England: one of the Sherlockian detective's contacts becomes a victim of the Ripper.)
  • Moriarty by John Gardner, 1974. (Moriarty tracks down the Ripper.)
  • Dracula's Diary by Michael Geare and Michael Corby, 1982. (Dracula encounters Holmes and Watson during their Ripper investigations.)
  • I, Sherlock Holmes by Michael Harrison, 1977. (Harrison returns to his Ripper theories first put forward in The World Of Sherlock Holmes.)
  • Supping with Panthers by Tom Holland, 1996. (A villain inspired by a reading of A Study In Scarlet, and a hero — a student of Joseph Bell's -- who becomes more closely involved with the Ripper than he'd like.)
  • Bloodline by Jill Jones, 2000. (A series of Ripper-like murders begins after a Sherlockian conference on Holmes and the Ripper.)
  • The Pandora Plague by Lee A. Matthias, 1981. (Dr Watson takes Harry Houdini on a tour of the Ripper murder sites.)
  • Anno Dracula by Kim Newman, 1992. (In an alternate London, ruled by Dracula, Holmes has been dispatched to a prison camp. It is up to Lestrade to solve the Ripper murders, and Mycroft and the Diogenes Club to destroy Dracula.)
  • The Adventures of Inspector Lestrade by M. J. Trow, 1985. (Lestrade inadvertently solves the Ripper case while working on another.)
  • Lestrade and the Ripper by M. J. Trow, 1988. (Lestrade works on the Ripper case and fails to solve it.)
  • A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny, 1993. (The dark gods are returning to the Earth, and Jack and The Great Detective are among those working to close -- or open -- the gateway.)
  • “The Adventure Of The Pearly Gate” by Mike Resnick (in Sherlock Holmes in Orbit, Mike Resnick and Martin H Greenberg, 1995). (The Ripper has arrived in Heaven by mistake; St. Peter sets Holmes to track him down.)
  • The Adventure of the New York Ripper by Philip J. Carraher, 2005. (Holmes re-assesses the Ripper murders in light of a series of similar killings in New York.)
  • The Baker Street Phantom by Patrice Bourland, 2010. (The ghost of Sherlock Holmes helps defeat the ghost of Jack the Ripper in 1930s London.)
  • The Shadow of Reichenbach Falls by John R. King, 2008. (Moriarty tackles the Ripper.)
  • The Fatal Mistake by Hugh S. Scullion, 1999. (Wiggins meets people connected to the Ripper investigation.)
  • Sherlock Holmes — The Way of All Flesh by Daniel Ward, 2004. (Watson encounters “Bohemian Jack”.)
  • “The Singular Habits of Wasps” by Geoffrey A. Landis, in The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, edited by John Joseph Adams, 2010. (Watson investigates Holmes's interest in the Ripper murders.)
  • “A Case of Identity” by Jack Ritchie, in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, February 1982. (The narrator follows the Ripper to 221B Baker Street.)
  • A Study in Darkness by Emma Jane Holloway, 2013. (Sherlock Holmes's niece, Evelina Cooper, faces the Ripper in a steampunk version of Victorian England.)
  • “The Adventure of the Ripper's Scrawl” by Michael Mallory, in The Adventures of the Second Mrs Watson, 2000. (Mrs Watson assists Holmes in finding a belated solution to the Ripper case.)
  • “The Adventure of the Organ Grinder's Whistle” by Howard Waldrop, in Night of the Cooters, 1977. (Holmes summons the Irregulars to the site of the latest Ripper murder.)
  • “The Adventure of the Other Detective” by Bradley Sinor, in The Improbable Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, edited by John Joseph Adams, 2010. (In an alternative dimension version of Victorian London, Holmes and Colonel Moran release Jack the Ripper from the asylum in which he is being kept prisoner. Moriarty and Watson must try to stop them.)

Screen shot from Sherlock Holmes vs. Jack the Ripper, an online game from Mobygames.

And the parodies

  • The Adventures Of The Five Puce Map Tacks by Paul Nizza
  • "The Whitechapel Murders: A Tale Of Sheerluck Holmes & Dr Witsend" (in The Morecambe & Wise Special by Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise, 1977)
  • "Jack the Ripper" (in I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again by Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie, 1985)
  • "Shamus Homes: The Return Of the Ripper" (in The Mad Book Of Mysteries by Lou Silverstone and Jack Rickard, 1980)
  • "The Singularge Experience Of Miss Anne Duffield" by John Lennon (in The Misadventures Of Sherlock Holmes, edited by Sebastian Wolfe, 1989)
  • “My Three Ripping Years at the Yard”, in The Unrelated Adventures of Clewlow Holmes by Douglas Moreton, 1998

Articles on Holmes and the Ripper

  • The Life and Times of Sherlock Holmes by Philip Weller, 1992 ("The Problem Of Sherlock Holmes & Jack The Ripper" by P L Anness)
  • The Baker Street Companion by Paul Lipari, 1996 (very brief)
  • The Sherlock Holmes Encyclopedia by Matthew Bunson, 1994 (also brief)

Other notes

Conan Doyle's speculations on the Ripper can be read in The Real World of Sherlock Holmes by Peter Costello, 1991 and Joseph Bell's in Dr. Joe Bell: Model for Sherlock Holmes by Ely M Liebow, 1982.

A play "Holmes and the Ripper" with a script by Brian Clemens was produced in the UK in 1988 (premiered at The Grand Theatre, Swansea, Tuesday, June 7) with Francis Matthews as Sherlock Holmes, Frank Windsor as Dr Watson.

Dr Watson takes Sigmund Freud on a tour of the Ripper's murder sites in the BBC radio drama "The Singular Case of Sherlock H. and Sigmund F." by Cecil Jenkins. Broadcast on February 6, 1990, with Ronald Pickup as Holmes, Norman Rodway as Watson and Andrew Sachs as Freud.