The Cottingley Fairies

Written by: on Thursday, December 2nd, 2010

“How did this particular book end up in your collection?”

Well, it all started many many years ago when two girls decided to cut out paper fairies and take pictures of them! Seriously though, to start at the beginning… SciFi (Now SyFy) aired a movie titled “FairyTale: A True Story”. The movie is based around two little girls, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, who take pictures of themselves with fairies. The mother takes the pictures to someone who decides that the photos must be genuine.

Before you know it, they’re caught up in a whirlwind that involves Harry Houdini, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, etc… People are trespassing on property to see fairies for themselves. Meanwhile the girls claim the faeries are true and the movie does touch on real fairies so the girls are real apologetic and so they make an offering by building some nifty house for them.

When I mentioned this movie to a friend, she instantly recognized it right away. The Cottingley Fairies. I don’t know if she saw the movie but she knew about the fairies and how it was so exciting and fascinating that such a phenomenon was able to happen at that period in time. I decided to hit Google and there was all this information about it. At some point, someone pointed out, “Hey! These faeries look just like some faeries right out of Princess Mary’s Gift Book.”

What was fascinating is that even though the girls confessed that the photographs were fake, they disagree on the final photograph (They took a total of five photographs). The final one doesn’t include either one of them. Frances claimed that the last photograph is genuine, and that they had actually seen fairies.

Last of Five Pictures. Genuine?

My friend thought the whole thing was downright fascinating (I’ll admit I did too after being surprised that Houdini and Doyle were actually swept up in it too – and not just something tossed in the movie to make it more dramatic).

I figured the neatest Christmas present I could give to her was the book that inspired some of the fairies. I went on eBay, kept track of several lots, and managed to nab one. It was in such perfect condition and even had a very old newspaper clipping tucked inside. I wrapped it up and sent it to her for Christmas. I thought it was so neat to have an old book that I decided to look on eBay again and I managed to nab one for myself. Unfortunately my copy was beat up but everything was still there.

I think it may be a bit difficult to find any information on Princess Mary’s Gift Book though. I was hoping to find the history on the book itself at some point but it’s so steeped into the Cottingley Fairies hoax.

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