Caught on film, or not–The Cottingley Fairies


by Denise Golinowski

Hi! Welcome to Myth Perceptions where I explore and then share aspects of myth and legend that I have encountered in my reading and writing. Currently, I’m exploring the stories, myths and legends pertaining to fairies. From Disney to Tolkein, Merry Gentry to Tinkerbell, the fae range not only size but in scope as well as intent. Most vehement will be the discussion of proof versus belief. To that end, I thought I’d share the Cottingley Fairies.


Cottingley Fairies, Photo 1, Wikimedia

When researching fairies, I stumbled upon the Cottingley Fairies. Perhaps you’ve heard of them? In 1917, two young girls, Elsie Wright & Frances Griffiths, cousins, living in Cottingley, England claimed to have photographed fairies playing around the stream or “beck” near their home. The five photos (taken between 1917 and 1920) came to the attention of no less a personage than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and made the rounds of photographic authorities to ascertain their authenticity. Apparently, the powers that be could not agree and the fairy photos were embraced or dismissed as actual “proof ofexistence” by various groups. Despite everything, the girls stuck by their stories, though in later years, they did begin to prevaricate a bit, stating the photos were of their imaginings. Finally in 1983, the women admitted the photos were faked but that they truly had seen fairies.

When reviewing the five Cottingley Fairy photos with a 21st Century eye, I find it hard to imagine anyone accepting them at face value. However, I propose that if you can shift your mind’s eye to the level of technology and, dare I say it, gullibility of the day, these photos may have been borderline believable. Or perhaps it is just the NEED of people to believe in such fantastic and wonderous creatures that could create the suspension of belief required to accept them. What do you think?

Wikipedia has a nice long article about the Cottingley Fairies with the photos I’ve purloined at –

The Museum of Hoaxes has an entry as well at –

Cottingley Fairies, Photo 2, Wiki


Cottingley Fairies, Photo 3, Wiki

Cottingley Fairies, Photo 4, Wiki


Cottingley Fairies, Photo 5, Wiki


Well, even if these were cunning fakes, I will continue my explorations into the diverse realms of fairy. Please drop in next month to see what else I’ve discovered.

CollectorsItem_7523_300Denise Golinowski is a reader and writer of fantasy and romance. Her enovellaCollector’s Item, is available as both print and ebook The Wild Rose Press.

Her first enovellaThe Festival of the Flowers: The Courtesan and the Scholar is also available  through the Wild Rose Press. You can visit her blog at Golinowski’s Gambol.



4 thoughts on “Caught on film, or not–The Cottingley Fairies

  1. I’ve never heard of them! I wonder what technology they used to fake the fairy shots? They look like paper dolls placed next to the girls.Fascinating, as always, Denise!

    • They actually did confess to using paper dolls, strings and pins to set up the fairies. However, they claimed the paper dolls were only representations of the fairies they saw but could not capture on film. I believe they found the fairies were too insubstantial to appear on film. Thanks for stopping by, Leah!

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