The Cottingley Fairies
In the summer of 1917, in leafy Cottingley Glen near Shipley in West Yorkshire, Elsie Wright aged 16, and her cousin Frances Griffiths aged 9, claimed to have taken photographs of fairies. The photographs showed the fairies flying around the glen in the company of the girls.
The photographs were later seen by Arthur Conan Doyle, who included them in an article he was writing about fairy lore. The article was published in the Christmas 1920 edition of the Strand magazine.
Doyle had an intense interest in other spiritual worlds and came from a family who were fascinated by fairies. His artist uncle Richard was famous for his fairy illustrations.and they were also sketched by his father Charles. Doyle went on to write The Coming of the Fairies (1922) which contained three extra photographs taken by the girls.
His writings on the subject were met with a mixed response, but it was not until the 1980s that Elsie and Frances admitted that the pictures were faked. Ironically, they revealed that the images were cut from the pages of Princess Mary’s Gift Book, a wartime fundraising volume to which Doyle himself had contributed a story.
Some modern versions of the paper fairies were made by the children from Bunny Warren Pre-school Nursery group who meet in Fratton community centre. There was also an exhibition case featuring objects and documents from the Collection and a storytelling session for the children.
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Exhibition case featuring objects and documents from the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection.
Image of Elsie Wright being offered a posy of harebells by a fairy - the fourth photograph in the Cottingley Fairy series.
Storytelling session at Bunny Warren Nursery to celebrate the Cottingley Fairies
Image of Frances Griffiths and the leaping fairy - the third photograph in the Cottingley Fairies series.
A map of the Cottingley Beck and Glen.showing where the fairies were 'found'.
Arthur Conan Doyle hoping to attract fairies in the garden of Bignell Wood.
The second photo in the Cottingley Fairies series, a story which began as a practical joke in Cottingley, near Bradford, West Yorkshire in 1917.