Notes on Hallie Rubenhold's "The Five" (2019) - Part 1. Polly Nichols


Chapter 4. 'Houseless Creature'

Page 83: When the story first broke, before anything substantial was known about Polly's life, almost every major newspaper in the country carried a piece stating, 'it was gathered that the deceased had led the life of an "unfortunate",' in spite of also reporting that 'nothing ... was known of her'.36
Note 36 (on page 358): London Times, Daily Telegraph, St James's Gazette, 1 September 1888.

What the Times and the St James's Gazette said was that women from a common lodging house identified the deceased as a woman named Polly, who had shared a room there with three other women. They then continue "It was gathered that the deceased had led the life of an "unfortunate" while lodging in the house, which was only for about three weeks past. Nothing more was known of her by them but that when she presented herself for her lodging on Thursday night she was turned away by the deputy because she had not the money ..." [my emphasis], and the account then relates more about that night's events [a transcript of the Times article can be read at Casebook]. The version in the Daily Telegraph omits the reference to her being an "unfortunate".

The quotation from the reports is edited in a way that gives the impression nothing at all was known about her. In fact the sense is that the witnesses said she had led the life of an "unfortunate" (i.e. a prostitute) while living in the lodging house, but that nothing more was known about her (except about the events of the night of her death). [For further discussion, see a review of "The Five" by Paul Begg in Ripperologist, number 164 (May 2019), page 78.]