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Cottingley fairies still intrigue 100 years on


Posted on Saturday, 3 March, 2018 | Comment icon 48 comments

The girls always remained adamant that they had seen fairies. Image Credit: Elsie Wright / PD
In 1917, two English schoolgirls claimed to have photographed fairies at the bottom of their garden.
One of the most infamous hoaxes of the 20th century, the story of the Cottingley fairies came from the unlikeliest of sources - two young cousins, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffith, from Cottingley, England.

The pair, who would often play near a stream at the bottom of Elsie's mother's garden, claimed that there were fairies living there. To prove it, Elsie one day borrowed her father's camera and the girls spent 30 minutes taking pictures of them.

The photographs, which were considered highly convincing at the time, went public in mid-1919 and quickly become famous across the country. Many believed the fairies to be real, including author and spiritualist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who included the photos in a magazine article he'd written.

The mystery of the Cottingley fairies would go on to endure for over 60 years until finally, in 1983, the two cousins admitted that the photographs had been faked using cut-out illustrations from a book.

Both however remained adamant that they had genuinely seen fairies at the bottom of the garden.

"Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright created one of the biggest hoaxes in British history," said Dr Richard Sugg of Durham University. "It's up there with the faking of the Piltdown Man."

"The girls started by challenging themselves in order to fool their immediate circle. They ended up attempting to hoodwink the world."


Source: Yorkshire Post | Comments (48)

Tags: Cottingley Fairies

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #39 Posted by Orphalesion on 24 March, 2018, 1:01
They painted the fairies themselves, using illustrations of dancing girls from a children's book as guidelines for the fairies in the first photograph:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottingley_Fairies#Confession
Comment icon #40 Posted by South Alabam on 24 March, 2018, 1:16
I thought they were cut out, thanks for clearing that up for me.
Comment icon #41 Posted by Black Monk on 25 March, 2018, 13:03
The girls became famous back in 1917 - yet Frances insisted until her death in 1986 that the fifth and final photo was real and that they had really seen fairies. The daughter has every right to express her belief that the final photo shows real fairies.
Comment icon #42 Posted by Black Monk on 25 March, 2018, 13:05
Frances insisted right up until her death in 1986 that the fairies in the fifth and final photo were real.
Comment icon #43 Posted by I'mConvinced on 25 March, 2018, 14:15
Here are five beans. They look identical, smell identical, feel identical and are in almost every way inseparable from each other. Four of these beans I plucked from the vine but this one, this fifth and special one, this just magically appeared with them and must contain special powers. Would you like to buy my magic bean? Did I mention I'm willing to swear it's magic till the day I die? This is how I feel about her story.
Comment icon #44 Posted by Black Monk on 25 March, 2018, 15:16
Doesn't take away from the fact that people here were convinced the girls admitted the whole thing was a fake - when they didn't.
Comment icon #45 Posted by I'mConvinced on 26 March, 2018, 9:02
Ok but what is your actual point? Are you trying to say the fifth photo, the one that looks identical to the other fakes, areactual fairies? Do you really believe that they faked fourbut not the fifth? Why did only one sister claim it was real and not both?
Comment icon #46 Posted by Merc14 on 27 March, 2018, 19:35
Don't forget William Mumler and his Spirit photography in the mid 19th century. Mary Tod Lincoln with Abe's ghost circa 1870
Comment icon #47 Posted by South Alabam on 27 March, 2018, 21:47
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cottingley_Fairies It would seem the fairies of that day, had the same hairdos as their human counter parts. That is why no matter how romantic or fanciful it would be, I don't think that photo is a picture of real fairies.
Comment icon #48 Posted by Orphalesion on 28 March, 2018, 22:15
I really don't get what you want to say with this? Whatever Frances or her daughter believe or claim to believe for whatever reason, doesn't change the fact that you have to be fairly gullible (or very determined to believe) to be fooled by those paper cutouts. From what I have read they also contradicted each other on who took the fifth photo. Plus it looks like an accidental double exposure, which did occasionally happen even as late as the 80s, as photos taken by my family show, so that could have contributed to the confusion and to Frances' POV. Elsie admitted they played along for a whi... [More]


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