The Coming of the Fairies

This is a true story about one of the most ingenious photographic mysteries of the 20th century; The Coming of the Fairies! It started in the wonderful village of Cottingley in West Yorkshire when two young cousins Elsie and Frances were playing with the camera at the bottom of the garden.

“The village of Cottingley”

Excited, the girls asked Elsie’s father to develop their photos. What was his surprise when he saw the tiny wing-bearing creatures dancing and flying near the girls… Elsie and Frances had seen the fairies!

“Frances and the Fairies” (1917)

The picturesque village kept the secrets of the unknown subhuman form of life. Elves, goblins, fairies and gnomes were playing in the flowers, running and appearing in the girls’ view. Next time Elsie was photographed with a gnome who didn’t look like a ghost at all.

“Elsie and the Gnome” (1917)

Inspired with the spiritualistic research, the great writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed in the fairies and established friendly relations with the girls. According to his words, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright had proved the existence of a population which pursued its own strange life in its own strange way, separated from us by some “difference of vibrations”.

“Sir Arthur Conan Doyle”

The photos sparked the public interest in the invisible world that was accessible to the young cousins’ visual perception. Who would have thought it? Many experts examined the shots and considered them as an entirely genuine work

“The Fairy Offering Posy of Harebells to Elsie” (1920

Of course, the epoch-making pictures were highly questionable. The famous magicians, photo experts and journalists remarked Elsie’s experience of work in a photographer’s studio, the fairies’ motionless poses and distinctly Parisian hairstyles… They supposed the use of the paper models though they didn’t see any threads.

“The Cottingley Fairies”

In 1983 the cousins said that their photos only represented their imagination. The dancing creatures were copied from the children’s book, cut out and supported with hatpins. The girls couldn’t be false to the brilliant writer Arthur Conan Doyle’s trust so they were quiet. Both girls maintained that they really had seen fairies.

 

My work is based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s book “The Coming of the Fairies” (1922). I took the pictures of my own fairies in order to invite you to the past and see the combination of mythology and photography.

Iโ€™d like to thank dear Shelly for the opportunityย to share my story on Toy Photographers Blog! Thank you for your attention!

Ann (@Miss_Feklista)

16 Comments

  1. Janan

    What an intriguing idea for the 6-image narrative Ann! I was captivated throughout it with the story and beautiful shots. It does achieve your goal of bringing photography and mythology together. So good!

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