November 09, 2023

#ThrowbackThursday – 9 November

It’s 9 November, and that means it’s time for another edition of Throwback Thursday! Today, we’re taking a look back at three prominent events that went down on this day in history (warning: mentions of graphic content ahead, so proceed cautiously):

1888 – A Heartless End

For 12 weeks, England’s capital city was in the throes of the “Autumn of Terror”: a serial killer dubbed Jack the Ripper stalked the streets of London’s notorious Whitechapel slum, taking the lives of four hapless streetwalkers – Mary Ann Nichols, Annie Chapman, Elizabeth Stride and Catherine Eddowes – in a most brutal and bloody fashion.

On 9 November 1888, this sanguinary season came to an end when a fifth streetwalker met her very grisly death at the hands of Saucy Jack.

Mary Jane Kelly was a 25-year-old Irishwoman who resided at 13 Miller’s Court, a small room behind landlord Thomas Bowyer’s shop located in Dorset Street. According to conflicting witness reports, she was last seen (and heard) alive between the late hours of 8 November and the early hours of 9 November. George Hutchinson, an acquaintance of Kelly, claimed he saw her and a man (presumably a customer) entering her lodgings.

Between 3:30AM and 4AM, Elizabeth Prater – who lived directly above Kelly’s room – heard someone crying “Oh, murder!”, but thought nothing of it as it was a common cry heard in the East End. Nearly two hours later, Prater thought she heard someone leaving Kelly’s room.

At 10:45AM, Bowyer sent his assistant, John McCarthy, to go collect his overdue rent from Kelly. Knocking on the door, but receiving no answer, MCarthy pulled aside the room curtain that covered the room’s broken windowpane – he glimpsed aside and saw a most gory scene:

Kelly’s body. At least, what remained of her body.

Mutilated beyond all recognition, she lay on her bed, her face – virtually hacked to pieces – turned towards the window. The rest of her body bore the brunt of a frenzied attack, sliced up and skinned to the bone. Without being overly graphic, the perpetrator clearly had no regard for her flesh and vital organs, of which one – her heart – was missing. Kelly was identified by her ex-boyfriend, Joseph Barnett, based on her eyes and ears.

Per the autopsy report, Kelly died as a result of her throat being cut; the mutilations on her body occurred afterwards. As such, her murder was regarded as the work of Jack the Ripper.

Not only was Kelly the youngest victim (the others were in their 40s), but she was also the only one out of the five women who was killed indoors. She is also believed to be the Ripper’s last victim: although similar killings took place after her death, no one knows for certain if it was the work of Saucy Jack or somebody else.

While the Autumn of Terror officially came to an end on 9 November, the mystery behind Jack the Ripper’s true identity continues to linger in the public consciousness.

1984 – Welcome to Primetime!

In your dreams, no one can hear you scream … no one, except Freddy Krueger.

Written and directed by Wes Craven, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is a classic horror film: it follows teenager Nancy Thompson (portrayed by Heather Langenkamp) and her friends who must unravel the mystery of Freddy Krueger (played by Robert Englund), a burnt child murderer who dons a metal-clawed glove, and is able to invade the dreams of his victims and kill them.

Released in US theatres on 9 November 1984, the film raked in $57 million at the box office against a $1.1 million budget. It was loved by the audiences, although critics had mixed feelings about Craven’s soon-to-be-horror masterpiece.

Observe this review from “Variety”: “With original special effects, the nightmares are merging into reality, as teens are killed under inexplicable circumstances. Writer-director Wes Craven tantalisingly merges dreams with the ensuing wake-up reality, but fails to tie up his thematic threads satisfyingly at the conclusion.”

Perhaps that’s why “A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge” was released a year later, the second film in an entire multimedia franchise that’s both loved and loathed by fans and critics alike to this day … but that’s a story for another time!

1985 – Kasparov Dominates Karpov

At the age of 22, Garry Kasparov of Russia achieved something that thousands of chess players aspire to accomplish: he became the undisputed world chess champion.

From 3 September to 9 November 1985, Kasparov took on his fellow countryman and then-champion, Anatoly Karpov, in a multi-match chess championship that would raise his profile for years to come. The championship took place in Moscow, Russia; whoever won the most games out of 24 would be declared the winner.

After 23 games, Kasparov (playing black) was leading the score 12:11. If Karpov (playing white) won the final game, then he would have retained his title.

Alas for Karpov, the match, though closely fought, saw him making decisive errors on moves 36 and 40. This allowed Kasparov to attack with the Sicilian Defence technique, thus allowing him to beat Karpov with a score of 13:11.

Kasparov became the 13th world champion, as well as the youngest champion in the history of the International Chess Federation. His reign lasted until 1993 when the federation stripped him of his title due to a dispute over the venue for a championship match; although he rued parting ways from them, Kasparov went on to establish the Professional Chess Association.

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