Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Spring-Heeled Jack

A legendary early-Victorian London figure (see also Urban Legends). He was (at first) a mysterious outlaw who attacked his victims while wearing a large helmet, a long black flowing cloak and tight-fitting white oilskin-like suit. His hands were claw-like, his eyes burned like coals, his ears were huge and his mouth spat blue flame. He was capable of jumping rooftops at a single bound. Guns didn't bother him. He made no noise at all. In early penny-dreadful appearances – like Spring-Heeled Jack, the Terror of London (circa 1870) – he was villainous, but he soon became in effect a Masked Avenger, defending the poor and helpless; this version stars in Philip Pullman's Spring-Heeled Jack (1989). In Tim Powers's The Anubis Gates (1983) SHJ is far more menacing. [JC]

further reading: The Legend and Bizarre Crimes of Spring Heeled Jack (1977) by Peter Haining.

see also: Jack; Jack the Ripper.

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.