Cottingley fairy photographs

   Five photos taken in 1917 and 1920 by two teenage girls at Cottingley (Yorkshire) purported to show fairies dancing in a nearby glen; they convinced Edward Gardner, a prominent Theosophist, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Over 60 years later, the girls admitted to a hoax, originally simply meant to deceive their family (Yorkshire Evening Post (19 Mar. 1983); The Times (9 Apr. 1983)). The photographic process itself had not been faked, but the objects photographed were painted cardboard cut-outs pinned on to bushes. The photos and related documents fetched Ј22,000 at auction in July 1998.
   For the original report, see Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Strand Magazine (Dec. 1920), 436-8; and Edward L. Gardner, Fairies: A Book of Real Fairies (1945; many reprints). For fuller discussion, see Geoffrey Crawley, 'The Astonishing Affair of the Cottingley Fairies', published in ten parts in The British Journal of Photography (19823); Cooper, 1990; Paul Smith, in Narvaez, 1991: 371-405.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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