Writing about my love of the Fae was pretty easy. Writing about myths and legends is a whole different story. While whittling down what I wanted to write about this week I was drawn to the Cottingley Fairies, the true story about two young girls who were thought to have actually taken pictures of Fairies.The story began in 1917 (or1916 depending on the source) when young cousins Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright borrowed Elsie’s father’s camera and took some pictures that upon being developed showed Frances with a group of Fairies. The photographs were subjected to many authentications and even had the support Sir. Arthur Conan Doyle who believed in the authenticity of the photographs and felt that if the pictures would convince the general public that fairies were real then maybe they would be more willing to accept other psychic phenomena (Smith, Paul (1997), "The Cottingley Fairies: The End of a Legend", in Narváez, Peter, The Good People: New Fairylore Essays, The University Press of Kentucky, pp. 371–405, ISBN 978-0-8131-0939-8)
Kodak, yes, that Kodak, the photographic company was called as the second specialist to authenticate the photographs, while they concurred with the original assessment that the pictures did not appear to be fake they would not issue a certificate of authenticity. (Magnusson, Magnus (2006), Fakers, Forgers & Phoneys, Mainstream Publishing, ISBN 1-84596-190-0)In the 1980’s the girls (then in their 80’s) admitted that they faked the pictures by using hat pins and drawings that Elsie made using the book “Princess Mary’s Gift” for inspiration. Having been hounded about the pictures for most of their lives some suggest they “confessed” to spare their families from future harassment.
Many books have been written about the Cottingly Fairies and several movies have also been made, the most recent that I know of being the two released in 1997 - Photographing Fairies and FairyTale: A True Story. Two completely different stories!
Regardless of whether or not the photograph was faked, I find it enchanting. The Cottingley Fairies website has quite a bit of information on it about the girls, the pictures and controversy as well as some interesting information on where the artifacts are now and some things to ponder about how it was possible (or not) for two young girls to fake such amazing photographs.
Looking at the picture of Frances and the faeries makes me smile. If the girls faked them my hat is off to them for their talent and skill in convincing so many people! If they photos are real... Yay!
My belief in the Fae won't be affected one way or the other but every time I look at the picture above I smile!