Jan Bondeson

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Jan Bondeson
Born (1962-12-17) 17 December 1962 (age 54)
Nationality Swedish
Occupation Rheumatologist, scientist, author, lecturer

Jan Bondeson (born 17 December 1962) is a Swedish-British rheumatologist, scientist and author, working as a senior lecturer and consultant rheumatologist at the Cardiff University School of Medicine. Outside of his career in medicine, he has written several nonfiction books on a variety of topics, such as medical anomalies and unsolved murder mysteries.[1] In a 2003 interview, Bondeson told Publishers Weekly, "I've always had a profound interest in history, especially the history of medicine, and a bit of a fancy for the macabre and odd."[2] Bondeson is the biographer of a predecessor of Jack the Ripper, the London Monster, who stabbed fifty women in the buttocks, of Edward 'the Boy' Jones, who stalked Queen Victoria and stole her underwear, and Greyfriars Bobby, a Scottish terrier who supposedly spent 14 years guarding his master's grave.


Bondeson attended medical school at Lund University, Sweden, and qualified in 1988. He became a specialist in rheumatology and internal medicine, and defended his PhD thesis in 1996. He was awarded several scholarships to continue his scientific career at the renowned Kennedy Institute of Rheumatology in London. He became a pioneer of the experimental use of adenoviral gene transfer to study intracellular signalling, and investigate the regulation of important cytokines and matrix metalloproteinases. In 2000, he was promoted to become senior lecturer and consultant rheumatologist at Cardiff University, doing a mixture of clinical work, teaching and research. Here, his research has concentrated on the role of synovial macrophages in osteoarthritis, and regulation of degradative enzymes in this disease. Bondeson has more than a hundred publications in refereed scientific journals, and continuing research grant support from Arthritis Research UK.


Bondeson has also written a series of books in the areas of the history of medicine and zoology, and some studies about curious historical episodes. His Cabinet of Medical Curiosities was published in 1997. His book Buried Alive, a historical study of the signs of death, and the risk of being prematurely buried by mistake, was supported by a scholarship from the Wellcome Trust. The London Monster tells the story of a series of stabbings of London women between 1788 and 1790. The Great Pretenders (2003) is a study of historical cases of disputed identity, like the Lost Dauphin of France, Kaspar Hauser and the Tichborne Claimant. Queen Victoria's Stalker (2010), tells the story of Edward 'the Boy' Jones, a weird teenager who became obsessed with the youthful Queen Victoria and broke into Buckingham Palace to stalk her. After stealing the Queen's underclothes and spying on her in her dressing room, he was kidnapped by government agents and forced to serve in the Royal Navy for more than five years without charge or trial.

In 2011, Bondeson published Amazing Dogs, a cabinet of canine curiosities about the cultural history of dogs. The most newsworthy chapter in this book dealt with the German fascination with allegedly super-intelligent dogs: the so-called 'New Animal Psychology' movement believed that if they were trained to communicate using a sign language, the dogs could become the intellectual equals of their owners. Remarkably, these beliefs were shared by some of the Nazis, who made experiments to create superdogs loyal to the Nazi Herrenvolk. The same year, Bondeson published Greyfriars Bobby, the Most Faithful Dog in the World, a thorough biography of Greyfriars Bobby, a Scottish Skye Terrier who supposedly kept vigil over his master's grave for 14 years. Original sources, and newly discovered illustrations, are made use of to re-interpret the story of Greyfriars Bobby completely, and to describe the pan-European myth of the 'Dog on the Master's Grave' and the many other graveyard or cemetery dogs at large in Victorian times. In 2012, he published Those Amazing Newfoundland Dogs, a full-length cultural history of Newfoundlands, with a profusion of old illustrations.

In 2013, Bondeson published The True History of Jack the Ripper, about a 1905 novel about Jack the Ripper that was written by Guy Logan. The following year, he published Murder Houses of London, about London houses wherein celebrated historical murders have been committed. In 2015, he published two more books on London's murder houses, covering South London and all the suburbs. In February 2016, he published Rivals of the Ripper, a full-length study of unsolved murders of women in London during the late Victorian era; the most newsworthy chapter deals with a string of unsolved murders of young girls in the West Ham area in the 1880s and 1890s, raising the possibility that a serial killer had been at work. In August 2016, he published Strange Victoriana, a collection of medical freaks, ghosts, strange animals, mysteries and Forteana from Victorian times, with illustrations from the old periodical Illustrated Police News. In January 2017, he published The Ripper of Waterloo Road, about the murder of Eliza Grimwood in 1838, suggesting that she was one of four victims of a previously unrecognized early Victorian serial killer. For many years, he has been a regular contributor to the Ripperologist and the Fortean Times, and he also writes for True Detective, Dagger and BBC History magazines.

Selected works[1][edit]

  • The Prolific Countess, Stichting oud Loosduinen 1996. Dutch translation.
  • A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities, Cornell UP 1997 [out of print]/ IB Tauris UK pbk 1997 [out of print] / WW Norton US pbk 1999. Japanese, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian translations.
  • The Feejee Mermaid and Other Essays in Natural and Unnatural History, Cornell UP 1999 [out of print] / pbk 2014. Spanish translation.
  • The Two-Headed Boy and Other Medical Marvels, Cornell UP 2000 [out of print] / pbk 2004. Chinese translation.
  • The London Monster: A Sanguinary Tale, U Penn Press 2000. Da Capo Press pbk 2002. UK reissue in 2003 by History Press / pbk 2005.
  • Buried Alive: The Terrifying History of Our Most Primal Fear, WW Norton 2001 [out of print] / pbk 2002. German, Dutch and Spanish translations.
  • The Great Pretenders: The True Stories behind Famous Historical Mysteries, WW Norton 2003 [out of print] / pbk 2004. Japanese and Portuguese translations.
  • The Pig-faced Lady of Manchester Square [revised UK version of Two-headed Boy], History Press 2004 [out of print] / pbk as Freaks in 2006.
  • Blood on the Snow: The Killing of Olof Palme, Cornell UP 2005 [out of print] / pbk 2013. Danish translation.
  • The Cat Orchestra and the Elephant Butler [revised UK version of Feejee Mermaid], History Press 2006 [out of print] / pbk as Animal Freaks in 2008.
  • Queen Victoria's Stalker, Amberley Pub & Kent St UP 2010 / UK pbk 2011. Thai translation.
  • Amazing Dogs: A Cabinet of Canine Curiosities, Amberley Pub & Cornell UP 2011 / UK pbk 2013. Italian translation.
  • Greyfriars Bobby, the Most Faithful Dog in the World, Amberley Pub 2011 / pbk 2012.
  • Those Amazing Newfoundland Dogs, CFZ Press 2012.
  • The True History of Jack the Ripper [with Guy Logan], Amberley Pub 2013.
  • Murder Houses of London, Amberley Pub 2014 / pbk 2015.
  • Murder Houses of South London, Troubador Pub 2015.
  • Murder Houses of Greater London, Troubador Pub 2015.
  • Rivals of the Ripper, History Press 2016.
  • Strange Victoriana, Amberley Pub 2016.
  • The Ripper of Waterloo Road, History Press 2017.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Jan Bondeson". Contemporary Authors Online. 29 April 2009. Retrieved on 20 July 2010.
  2. ^ Ron Hogan. "PW talks with Jan Bondeson: Who Is Jan Bondeson and Why Is He Telling These Strange Stories?" Publishers Weekly. 24 November 2003. 50.

External links[edit]