The Mystery of Spring Heeled Jack
The first reports of Spring Heeled Jack arose in London in the Victorian era. He terrified the ladies of London. A veritable bounder and cad, this devil-like man could leap high into the air.
Though monstrous, he was seen as a bit of a gentleman. He was very well dressed, not someone you would cross the road to avoid.
A Victorian Police Lamp - Spring Heeled Jack's Red Eyes?
He presents an interesting case. The term ‘Spring Heeled Jack’ seems to be a catch all description of a scary man on a dark night. Some reports mentioned red eyes, some blue flames; all seem to focus on the fact that this was a gentleman. There were some hints that he may have been carrying the kind of portable lantern that policemen used to carry.
A gentleman terrorising the servant girls of London could be an early attempt to report and uncover injustices. Crime against less fortunate members of society was likely rampant in those days. Those in the underclasses didn’t really have much of a voice back then. Rather than accuse a master of cruelty outright, people may have turned to folklore to describe terrors that had genuinely been inflicted upon them.
Spring Heeld Jack Today
Nowadays, we're not at all surprised by baddies in films - it takes a lot to shock an audience now. But back in Spring Heeled Jack's day, the very thought of a caped menace would have struck fear in many.
Spring Heeled Jack lives on in the imagination of authors to this day.
Back in 1991, Philip Pullman was inspired to write about the terrifying terror that is Spring Heeled Jack.
'A dreadful fate looks certain until, from out of nowhere, a figure with glowing, red eyes appears. He leaps through the air like a firework - it's Spring-Heeled Jack, scourge of evil-doers!'— Philip Pullman
Research for Folklorists!
In 2017 Karl Bell, a Senior Lecturer of History at the University of Portsmouth, gave an in depth account of the folklore surrounding Spring Heeled Jack. A must for those who are interested in the legend!
The book draws upon a rich variety of primary source material including folklorist accounts, street ballads, several series of "penny dreadful" stories (and illustrations), journals, magazines, newspapers, comics, court accounts, autobiographies and published reminiscences.— Karl Bell
Do you think that Spring Heeled Jack existed?
- Spring Heeled Jack | Kimberley's tracks
The first few lines from 'Spring Heeled Jack', by Kimberley Clarke. The full story is available...
© 2015 Kimberley Clarke