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First identified in January of 1838, Spring-heeled Jack became an urban monster and literary persona that captured incredible media attention in the latter half of the nineteenth century. Though beginning as a ghostly apparition, Jack emerged as a dapper gentleman with fiery eyes and claws after his 1838 debut in The Times. In the following decades, Jack appeared in inexpensive Gothic literature, growing to personify the aristocratic Gothic villain. However, in the 1860s and 1870s, his persona splintered between “realistic” sightings and fictional interpretations. Gradually, Jack retreated to the shadows, becoming a fictitious model for emerging monsters. The case of Spring-heeled Jack offers commentary on the role of popular media and literature in the evolution and continuation of local monsters. The legend of Spring-heeled Jack grew from humble rumor to sensational proportions, a product of his environment rather than his consistent villainy. Though his more “realistic” persona maintained a fearsome reputation, his literary alternative developed in relation to literary trends. These trends informed his evolution and influenced the development of certain qualities and skills adopted by witness reports.


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20 Jul 2022
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  • Subject
    • History, Anthropology, & Philosophy

  • Institution
    • Gainesville

  • Event location
    • Nesbitt 3204

  • Event date
    • 25 March 2022

  • Date submitted

    20 July 2022

  • Additional information
    • Acknowledgements:

      Phillip Guerty