Pub: John Murray Pubs Ltd (June 1995)
This hardback book has 246 pages, including indexes. In the ‘prologue’ it refers to a 1970 article which suggests that ‘Jack the Ripper’ was almost certainly Queen Victoria’s grandson, Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale. Allied to this is the author’s conjecture that the Prince was also heavily involved in the ‘Cleveland Street Scandal’ (a notorious homosexual brothel case of the day), [Edward Samuel Wesley de Cobain, MP for Belfast, East, was involved in the affair].
That is the background for the book, however, having read it twice, I have to say with honesty that the author in my mind has filed to prove either supposition. Indeed the fabric around the Jack the Riper case and the Prince only deserves mention on approximately 26 pages, and the Cleveland Street case hardly at all! The author concentrates on Lord Arthur Somerset, his part in the latter case, his escape, who helped him and what happened to him afterwards – to my mind he has not proved that the Prince was involved at all.
This is a book that reads like a thesis for a University course. It is dry, un-intriguing, full of conjecture, and all in all not one that I can recommend. The only possible redeeming factors are the photos of the Prince, who was extremely handsome man; and also the line drawings of the other characters in the two stories.
The publishers make reference to Aronson’s previous ‘wonderful’ biographies (The King in Love – King Edward VII’s Mistresses, Napoleon and Josephine and Heart of a Queen – Queen Victoria’s Attachments) – I have not read any of these, and if this book is representative of his tyle, I will not be doing so.