Every Man Jack

A list of the stars of ‘Jack Tales’

Like Hanz in Germany or Ivan in Russia, Jack seems to be the go to name for characters in 18th and 19th English literature. Jack, in these stories is often a young adult, possibly lazy or foolish, but full of wit and imagination. Jack can be tricky or rebelious.

In Episode 18 – The True Story of Jack Valentine, I learned a bit about a particular Jack in folklore from a specific area of England. Recently, it dawned on me just how many ‘Jacks’ there have been in books over the years… especially if it was written across the pond.

Why Jack?

According to Behindthename.com, the name ‘Jack’ is “derived from Jackin (earlier Jankin), a medieval diminutive of John. There could be some early influence from the unrelated French name Jacques. It is often regarded as an independent name. During the Middle Ages it was very common, and it became a slang word meaning man.”

Jack was often used to describe an ordinary man. It was also used when describing various tools or devices that could aid a person in work. Jackhammer, jackknife, car jack. It’s used in the name of professions… Lumberjack or steeplejack. You could play a game of jacks, or play with a Jack-in-the-box. If you live in England, you may fly the Union Jack flag while listening to the Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash”.

Jack of all Trades

In Episode 53 – Every Man Jack, I learned all there was to know about ‘Spring-heeled Jack’, a man or monster that terrorized the English countryside fifty years before ‘Jack the Ripper’. I also listed some famous literary Jack characters which I present to you now.

Lets see how many ‘Jacks’ you remember from your childhood.

The one who jumps

The one who falls

The one who eats

The one who builds

The one who sits

The one with beans

The one who fights

The one who is cold

For more ‘Jack’ fun

Listen to Episode 53 of the Podcast which is out now on all major podcast streaming services.

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