Spring-heeled Jack: the Terror of London

J S Mackley

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review


The legends of Spring-heeled Jack circulated after a series of assaults against young women reported in 1837; the descriptions of the assailant were of a “devil-like gentleman” or a “leaping man”. Who he was, no one knew, and although the sightings were generally documented around the London area, there were reports from all over the country until 1904. Some of these were fuelled by superstition and copy-cat attacks, others were exaggerated sightings where it was claimed that people were frightened to death. These reports gave rise to stories published as serials in the “Penny Dreadful” newspapers, beginning in 1863. Some stories used Spring-heeled Jack as a mysterious character, others focused on him as an aristocratic who enjoyed pranking people – especially those who abused their status – but who was ultimately a champion for the weak, the vulnerable and the exploited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalAeternum: the Journal of Contemporary Gothic Studies
Issue number2
Early online date21 Dec 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Dec 2016


  • Spring-heeled Jack Terror of London
  • Penny Dreadful
  • Victorian Gothic
  • Gothic London
  • serial novel


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