I remember when I was a child, my father telling me of a couple of young girls that had real fairies at the bottom of their garden. My father explained to me that these two girls had even taken photos of them.
Well, of course I was intrigued by this tale and was enthralled when I saw the 1920’s photos in a magazine. They were very exciting photographs and I would stare and study the beautiful fairies in these photos for hours.
When I heard that photographic experts were unsure whether the images were fake or not, I remember feeling a little disheartened. As a young girl myself, I wanted the fairies to be real and refused to believe that they could be fake. These beautiful photos had captured world attention and there was an awful of time and effort going into the research and study of these pictures. They really were excellent and if they were to be found as fake, then these very young girls made them exceptionally well.
The two girls in question were cousins Frances Griffith, 10 and Elsie Wright, 13 the photographs were allegedly taken while playing in Elsie’s garden. She lived the village of Cottingley. Elsie borrowed her father’s camera explaining that they had been playing with fairies in the garden. Of course her father believed it was just child’s play and agreed to let Elsie use the camera. However, when the photo’s were developed and an image of Frances and a fairy could be seen he filed it away believing it to be nothing more that a prank. A few weeks later the girls took another photograph and when this one was developed it showed an image of Elsie with a gnome, still her father treated it as a joke and filed it away with the first photo.
It was not until 1919 when Elsie’s mother was looking at the photos and was intrigued by them that things really began to take off. Elsie’s mother was a very strong believer in the supernatural and took the photos to a spiritualist speaker, who in turn showed them to Edward Gardner who was a researcher into the paranormal; he showed them to photographer Harold Snelling. Mr. Snelling studied the pictures fully with his expert eye and eventually declared them as GENUINE photographs which had been taken with “single exposure, open-air work, and show movement in all the fairy figures, and there is no trace whatever of studio work involving card or paper models, dark backgrounds, painted figures, etc.” These were his words……well, it was no wonder that the world became so excited by all of this.