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cottingley - Woman

The Cottingley Faeries


.:* The Cottingley Faeries *:.

In July 1918, two young girls from rural Cottingley, England, prodused what appeared to be the world's first photograph of actual faeries. The picture, taken by sixteen-year-old Elsie Wright, showed her cousin, Frances Griffits, sitting in the forrest with several tiny winged people flitting about her.

Elsie's father, who developed the film, did not believe in faeries and told the girls so, suggesting gently that they had staged the scene. But the girls insisted that they had seen faeries in the woods many times. A month later they produced a second picture, this time of Elsie posing with a gnome.

Elsie's father remained skeptical, but her mother mentioned the pictures to friends who had interest in the supernatural.
From there the story spread quickly, ultimately coming to the attention of one of the most famous writers of the era - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the great detective Sherlock Holmes.

Facinated that the stories were real, Doyle and other interested parties consulted a variety of experts to find out if the photographs had been faked.

Although some commented that the faeries' hairstyles looked too "modern," no one could produce conclusive evidence of fraud.

In December 1919, Doyle published an article in the Strand magazine entitled "Faeries Photographed - An Epoch-Making Event," which met with tremendous excitement from believers, as well as brutal criticism from skeptics.
Further fuel was added to the fire when, in 1920, the girls took three more faery photographs.

The debate over the authenticity of the Cottingley fairies raged for the next several decades. At last, in the early 1980s, both Elsie and Frances admitted that the pictures were a hoax.

They had constructed the fairies out of paper and used hatpins to secure them to tree branches or on the ground. Frances remembered being shocked that anyone had believed their stories. After all, she pointed out, the pins were visible in some of the pictures - yet somehow no one noticed.


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