Dorothy Coles's moving obituary for Dawn Morris (1955-2007) in the latest issue of the Morris Society Journal (XVII, 3, Winter 2007, 10-12) reminds us what a vivid person and devoted Morrisian Dawn was, and how welcome her Sheffield events were as a northern counterbalance to the Society's London focus.
Years ago, after I gave a paper on Morris and Sherlock Holmes at one of her Sheffield conferences, Dawn informed me, to my amazement, that she had heard or read that Morris had once been arrested on suspicion of being Jack the Ripper. I was incredulous, since no such story appears in any of the main Morris biographies, but she was convinced about this and said she would endeavour to track down her source.
Time passed, we both became busy with other things, and we never did go further into this curious Jack the Ripper claim. Certainly Morris was active in the East End as a political activist during the Ripper years, and one could, I suppose, imagine the police, as part of their campaign to harrass socialists, trying to intimidate one of the movement's leaders by arresting him on such grounds. Maybe. But is there any genuine historical evidence out there that he ever actually was arrested as a Ripper suspect? Dawn Morris was convinced that he was, but does anyone else know what her putative source might have been?