Review: The Hypno-Ripper by Edward Oliver Tilburn

This is the second volume in the “Hypnotism in Victorian and Edwardian Era Fiction” series, published by Themes & Settings in Fiction Press.
The two stories collected here were published during the time of the Jack the Ripper killings, and they are among the earliest fictional accounts dealing with the Whitechapel murders. Both of these stories have Jack the Ripper being an American, who travelled from New York City to London to commit the murders, and the Ripper commits his crimes while under the influence of hypnotism. The first story, “The Whitechapel Mystery; A Psychological Problem (“Jack the Ripper”),” is a novel authored by N. T. Oliver, and originally published in 1889 by the Eagle Publishing Company. The second story, “The Whitechapel Horrors,” is a short tale, published anonymously in two American newspapers, shortly after the murder of Mary Jane Kelly in November 1888.
Also included is a lengthy biographical profile on Edward Oliver Tilburn. “N. T. Oliver” was a pseudonym for the highly interesting Edward Oliver Tilburn. Besides being an author, Tilburn was a minister, actor, lecturer, secretary for several cities’ Chambers of Commerce, snake-oil salesman, Christian psychologist, as well as an accused embezzler, shady real estate broker, and a self-proclaimed medical doctor.

The Hypno-Ripper by Edward Oliver Tilburn. Edited by Don Hartmen. Published by Themes & Settings in Fiction Press, May 2021. 198 Pages. The Whitechapel Mystery originally published in 1889. The Whitechapel Horrors published in 1888.

I received a copy of this book from Don Hartmen in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.

The Hypno-Ripper is a fascinating look into the minds of the Victorian era. The Jack the Ripper case was hot news and everyone had a theory. These two fictional accounts are some of the first Jack the Ripper stories printed! It is interesting that both stories have an American killer who uses hypnotism to commit the crimes. Not only was Jack a hot topic in the Victorian times, but so was hypnotism.

The preface and the forward both talk about how the Victorians were obsesses with spiritualists, seances, paranormal, and mesmerism. Hypnosis was extremely popular at the time. Both the preface and the forward together became a little bit repetitive because they both covered a lot of the same discussions. The forward gave more details. Back to back similar content didn’t seem needed, but the information was interesting and I appreciate learning something about the time these stories were written in.

The first story was The Whitechapel Murders. It was a pretty decent detective story. You had a US detective trying to figure out who robbed a bank. He eventually tracks the theif to the UK and ends up becoming involved in the Jack the Ripper case. I liked this one a lot though it did go on for a long time. The mystery was fun and it was my favorite out of the two stories.

After the two stories, there is a lenghty biography of E. T. Tilburn, the author of the first story and possibly the second story. The biography was almost as long as the two stories combined. It was extremely well researched. Edward was a very interesting man.

I’m so happy to see both of these stories back in print. There are a few typos on the quotation marks and it can cause a little bit of confusion. The stories are an entertaining and amusing look at how the nasty murders could have been committed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s