Bestselling author and social historian, Hallie Rubenhold, has won the £50,000 Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction for The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper.
In this revolutionary joint biography, Rubenhold reconstructs the lives of five of the women killed by the notorious Jack the Ripper, often from as little as the DNA from a single hair.
The Five is a riposte to prevailing Ripper myths, giving voice to the murdered women and painting a picture of the precariousness of working class lives in Victorian London. “These were ordinary people, like you and I, who happened to fall upon hard times,” says Rubenhold, “There’s so much in their stories that we can take away that tells us about how we live today: everything from homelessness to addiction to domestic violence. And people become victims because society doesn’t care about them.”
Stig Abell, Chair of the 2019 Baillie Gifford Prize judging panel, says, “This book seemed to synthesise all that we were looking for in a winner, indeed in any great book: at a simple level, it was beautifully written and impressively researched; and more broadly it spoke with an urgency and passion to our own times. Brilliance meeting relevance. It is a book we would all give to a friend for Christmas, knowing that they will have finished it with pleasure by New Year's Day.”
The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction is the UK’s pre-eminent non-fiction book prize. It is open to authors of any nationality and covers all non-fiction in the areas of current affairs, history, politics, science, sport, travel, biography, autobiography and the arts.
Previous winners of the Baillie Gifford Prize include Philippe Sands for East West Street, David France for How to Survive a Plague and Serhii Plokhy for Chernobyl. You can read exclusive interviews with all three of these authors on our website.