Hallie Rubenhold

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Hallie Rubenhold
Hallie Rubenhold at The British Library.jpg
Rubenhold at The British Library in 2022
Born1971 (age 51–52)
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Leeds
Academic work
Notable worksThe Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper (2019)

Hallie Rubenhold (born 1971 in Los Angeles) is an American-born British historian and author.[1][2] Her work specializes in 18th and 19th century social history and women's history. Her 2019 book The Five, about the lives of the women murdered by Jack the Ripper, was shortlisted for the Wolfson History Prize and won the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-fiction.[3] Rubenhold's focus on the victims of murder (frequently women), rather than on the identity or the acts of the perpetrator, has been credited with changing attitudes to the proper commemoration of such crimes and to the appeal and function of the true crime genre.[4]

Early life[edit]

Rubenhold was born in Los Angeles to a British father and American mother [5] and undertook a BA in History at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She then gained an MA in British History and History of Art and an MPhil in History from the University of Leeds, on the subject of marriage and child-rearing in the eighteenth century. Rubenhold has also worked in the commercial art world for Philip Mould and as an assistant curator for the National Portrait Gallery.[6]


In 2005, she wrote an accessible history of Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies and its author in her book The Covent Garden Ladies: Pimp General Jack and the Extraordinary Story of Harris's List, and, in 2008, she published The Harlot's Handbook: Harris's List, a selection of the directories' "funniest, rudest and most surreal entries". The BBC later adapted the material for a documentary, presented by Rubenhold herself called The Harlot's Handbook.[7]

Rubenhold appears regularly as an expert contributor on history documentaries for British and US networks. In the past she has appeared on BBC 2's Balderdash and Piffle, discussing the origins of merkins with burlesque star Immodesty Blaize and on BBC 4's Age of Excess. She has contributed to the BBC series The Beauty of Maps and to History Cold Case and to Channel 4's Titanic: The Mission, as well as the Travel Channel's Mysteries at the Museum and Private Lives of the Monarchs.[8] She also works as a historical consultant for period dramas, including Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (BBC) and Harlots (Hulu / Amazon).[9]

Her book, Lady Worsley's Whim, published in November 2008, is an account of one of the eighteenth century's most sensational sex scandals, the criminal conversation case of Sir Richard Worsley against Maurice George Bisset for having committed adultery with Seymour Dorothy Fleming, a member of The New Female Coterie established by Caroline Stanhope, Countess of Harrington. It featured as BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week from 3 November 2008 and was adapted into a 90-minute drama for BBC 2 entitled The Scandalous Lady W, broadcast on 17 August 2015, and starring Natalie Dormer.

Rubenhold has written two novels, both set during the eighteenth century. The French Lesson is set during the Terror in Revolutionary Paris. It follows on from her first novel, Mistress of My Fate, the first book in the Confessions of Henrietta Lightfoot series. Both books are written as an hommage to classic works of eighteenth and early nineteenth century literature.[10]

Her most recent book is The Five, a biography of the five victims of Jack the Ripper.[11] It won the £50,000 Baillie Gifford Prize in 2019 and was named the Hay Festival Book of the Year.[12][13] It was also shortlisted for the 2020 Wolfson History Prize.[14]

Rubenhold is married and lives in London.


  • (2005:a) The Covent Garden Ladies: Pimp General Jack and the extraordinary story of "Harris' List" . Stroud: Tempus ISBN 0-7524-2850-0
  • (ed.) (2005:b) "Harris's List of Covent-Garden Ladies": sex in the city in Georgian Britain. Stroud: Tempus
  • (2008:a) Lady Worsley’s Whim; An Eighteenth Century Tale of Sex, Scandal and Divorce. Chatto & Windus. US title: The Lady in Red
  • (2007:b) The Harlot's Handbook: Harris's List. Tempus
  • (2011) Mistress of My Fate; The Confessions of Henrietta Lightfoot Transworld
  • (2015) The French Lesson Transworld
  • (2019) The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper Doubleday ISBN 978-0-85752-4485


  1. ^ The Historian vol. 55 no. 4, Blackwell Publishing, 1993, p. 832
  2. ^ "OCLC Classify -- an Experimental Classification Service". classify.oclc.org. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  3. ^ "Hallie Rubenhold wins the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction | the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction".
  4. ^ Smith, Wendy. "Review | Jack the Ripper's identity has been endlessly scrutinized. His victims were largely forgotten". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 12 November 2020.
  5. ^ Zeringue, Marshal (8 September 2009). "The Page 99 Test: Hallie Rubenhold's "The Lady in Red"". Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  6. ^ "Hallie Rubenhold – Author – Broadcaster – Historical Consultant". www.hallierubenhold.com. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  7. ^ "BBC – BBC Four Documentaries – The Harlots Handbook". Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  8. ^ "TV Historian – Expert Appearances – Hallie Rubenhold". hallierubenhold.com. Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  9. ^ "Hallie Rubenhold". IMDb.
  10. ^ Gallagher, Victoria (11 November 2009). "Transworld secures Hallie Rubenhold series". The Bookseller. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
  11. ^ "'Untold story' of Ripper victims to Doubleday – The Bookseller". www.thebookseller.com. Retrieved 19 September 2018.
  12. ^ Flood, Alison (19 November 2019). "Baillie Gifford prize won by Jack the Ripper study 'reclaiming victims' voices'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  13. ^ "Book of the Year 2019".
  14. ^ "Shortlist announced for £40k Wolfson History Prize". Books+Publishing. 30 April 2020. Retrieved 5 May 2020.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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