The Five named Hay Festival Book of the Year 2019

The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper by Hallie Rubenhold has been named Hay Festival Book of the Year 2019 at the opening of Hay Festival Winter Weekend today. 

Hundreds nominated their favourite titles of the year online, with Festival organisers making the final decision to award Rubenhold’s book. Her win follows Inventing Ourselves by Sarah-Jayne Blakemore in 2018 andThe Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris in 2017.

The announcement comes as thousands of book lovers get ready to descend on “the town of books” for a four-day global celebration of ideas with writers, thinkers and entertainers, alongside a rich strand of workshops, woodland walks and town festivities, which run to Sunday 1 December. Rubenhold will talk about the book in a new addition to the programme on Saturday 30 November.

In The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper, historian Hallie Rubenhold offers the devastating narratives of the five women killed by Jack the Ripper in 1888. An important work of historical detection, The Five sees Rubenhold unravel the misogyny that has fed the Ripper myth. The book was also named winner of the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction last week.

A social historian and authority on women's lives of the past, Rubenhold has worked as a curator for the National Portrait Gallery and as a lecturer. Her books include Lady Worsley's Whim, dramatised by the BBC as The Scandalous Lady W, and Covent Garden Ladies: The Extraordinary Story of Harris's List, which inspired the ITV series Harlots

Gareth Howell-Jones, bookshop manager at Hay Festival, said:The Five is a brilliantly inventive study that became one of the most discussed titles at Hay Festival Wales this year – we’re delighted to celebrate it as our Book of the Year. Rubenhold has done what only the best writers can, bringing history into the present with lessons for us today.”

Watch Rubenhold’s Hay Festival Wales 2019 event again on Hay Player now at and book tickets to her Winter Weekend appearance at

Explore the full Hay Festival Winter Weekend programme here.