The Cottingley Fairies

In 1917, two cousins from Cottingley, near Bradford, photographed what they claimed were fairies. Frances Griffiths, 10 years old at the time, is seen here with their fairy friends, and Elsie Wright, age 16, is behind the camera. These were the famous Cottingley Fairies, vouched for by none other than Arthur Conan Doyle, inventor of the world’s most rational detective.

I make no bones about messing with an actual photo, since the photo is itself a very successful hoax. It seemed only right to put young Frances in a leaf. Below are the five original photos, the first of which I used in my mash-up. It’s sad to think that these enterprising girls went on to live thoroughly conventional lives. But I’ll leave the last devastating word to Frances:

I never even thought of it as being a fraud – it was just Elsie and I having a bit of fun and I can’t understand to this day why they were taken in – they wanted to be taken in.

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3 thoughts on “The Cottingley Fairies

  1. So far as I believe, what Frances says is particularly true for Conan Doyle – though no doubt Sherlock Holmes would have been immune to such things, Conan Doyle was a ‘spiritualist’ desperately looking for the mysteries of life to believe in. It’s still amazing that people did believe them, though, I mean, they do look like cut-outs! It may have been to do with photography being somewhat new, and therefore impressive science…

    • It’s certainly true that deception is a two way street. For every wild claim there must be a dupe wanting to believe it. (I hereby patent that as my Theory of YouTube). But photography was almost 80 years old when these were taken, and a lot of early films used special effects (Voyage to the Moon), so Conan Doyle knew what to look for if he’d been so inclined.

      • ah… forgive me for not looking up the origins of photography then! 1917 seemed quite old! :-D I fall back on my initial assertion of people wanting to believe!

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