Home > Paranormal Hoaxes > Cottingley Fairies

Cottingley Fairies

By: Paul Geraghty - Updated: 22 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Cottingley Cottingley Fairies Fairies

In 1916-17 while the First World War was raging in the trenches of France, two little girls sat playing with fairies in the English countryside; or so they told their parents. But their parents didn’t believe them. So they decided to take some photographs of the fairies as proof. The result was a series of images which were to tingle the British imagination for more than half a century.

In 1916, Frances Griffiths was 10, and Elsie Wright 16. They lived in the small village of Cottingley, in West Yorkshire. One day they borrowed a camera from Elsie’s father, and went off to take some photos. When Mr. Wright developed the images, he asked the girls why there were paper fairies in the photographs. They insisted the fairies were real. He put the photographs in a drawer and left them.

The Fairy Photographs Captivate Britain

His wife, however, who had a longstanding interest in the supernatural, was intrigued by the images and, five years later, happened to mention them while attending a theosophical meeting in Bradford. Her remarks were overheard by Edward Gardner, a leading theosophist, who asked to see them. When shown the images, Gardner was hugely impressed. He informed his friend, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the famous Sherlock Holmes stories, who likewise was intrigued.

Doyle considered going public with the story but asked his friend to check out the bona fides of the family and the photographs first. Gardner visited the Wright family in Cottingley and was struck by their apparent sincerity. Photographic experts were consulted. They declared that the negatives were genuine and had not been tampered with. This was enough for Doyle. He published an article in The Strand magazine, proclaiming that the photographs were the long-awaited proof of the existence of the fairy folk. Doyle also arranged for the girls to be visited by the medium Geoffrey Hodson. Hodson claimed that he too saw fairies in the area. Some time later, Doyle even wrote an entire book on the subject called The Coming of the Fairies.

With the prestige of such a famous author behind them, the Cottingley Fairies had been launched into the imagination of the British people. Over the coming decades, they were to be the subject of many further articles and inquiries. The girls talked much less about the fairies in their later lives, though, intriguingly, in a 1975 BBC television documentary, Elsie stated that the images were “photographs of figments of our imagination and that’s what I’m sticking to.”

Two years later, someone stumbled on an old children’s book which had drawings of fairies in it; fairies which bore a remarkable resemblance to those in the famous photographs.

The Truth Emerges

In the 1980s, the girls came clean. Elsie admitted by letter that the girls had faked the photographs, cutting out paper fairy figures and positioning them in such a way as to look real. Frances, in another television documentary made shortly before she died, declared that, even though the photographs were fake, there really were fairies at Cottingley Beck. And she insisted that at least one of the photographs really did show a fairy!

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • Mal
    Re: Signs that Your House is Haunted
    I was on my phone laying in bed around 3:50 when my mirror on the wall standing up suddenly slammed and was about to fall…
    9 November 2018
  • Maverick
    Re: What to do if You Have Seen a UFO
    When I was 18 minute friend Kevin is it on the school field drinking beer looked up at the sky and never uses like no sound…
    29 October 2018
  • My I Phone
    Re: What to do if You Have Seen a UFO
    I don’t know how to explain this when I was 18 a friend of mine Kevin and myself were sitting on the school field the…
    29 October 2018
  • Josie
    Re: Signs that Your House is Haunted
    My bf and I came home from work it was around 1:00am we played a movie called The Passion of the Christ in our bedroom (not…
    11 October 2018
  • Wolfie
    Re: Bradford Ghost
    I live in great Horton In Bradford West Yorkshire I am trying to find out if the area I live in is haunted because I was on my way home and I…
    10 October 2018
  • Bigjimhenderson
    Re: What to do if You Have Seen a UFO
    Umm literally not sure what I've just seen but it's creeped me out. Having my last cigarette before bed being a clear night…
    23 September 2018
  • Robo
    Re: What to do if You Have Seen a UFO
    I don't know if anyone's going to read this. Couple of years ago now me and my mate was coming back from Games Workshop…
    22 September 2018
  • Amy
    Re: What to do if You Think You Have a Poltergeist
    In the past year, I started hearing voices around the house. Calling my name or asking for me however…
    21 September 2018
  • Help
    Re: Signs that Your House is Haunted
    My family and I have moved a lot over the years. Every house we go to has something representing hauntings. A common one is…
    3 September 2018
  • Omg
    Re: Signs that Your House is Haunted
    My parents' bedroom is always so, so cold, a lot more than any part of the house, and it used to be my grandparents' room…
    27 August 2018