Sunday, 30 January 2011

Cottingley fairies


Cottingley, a village a mile or two west of Saltaire, was the setting for the infamous "Cottingley fairies" hoax.  In 1917, two young Cottingley girls, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, took photographs purporting to be of fairies.  These photographs were eventually published and 'authenticated' by - amongst others - the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  The girls did not admit that they were faked pictures, of cardboard cutouts stuck on hatpins, until 1981.  It's a fascinating story (read more here) not least because it shows how readily people will believe what they want to believe.  The photographs, cameras and related memorabilia are now in the National Media Museum in Bradford.


The episode is commemorated in a sign at the entrance to Cottingley village - and that, in a way, is another story, as I have tried unsuccessfully to photograph the sign many times. From the front it does not show up against the trees behind it.  From the back (as here) it is cluttered against what is normally a busy road junction.  A snowy day a few weeks ago, with unusually quiet roads - plus a bit of tidying up in Photoshop - mean that this is more successful than my earlier attempts.  (All the snow has melted now.)

17 comments:

  1. I'd never heard of the Cottingly fairies prior to your post, Jenny. What a fascinating story and what crafty young girls to have so cleverly been able to pull this off for so many years! The photographs are actually rather charming and show real talent and ingenuity.

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  2. I knew about this story, as I'm a big fan both of Conan Doyle and fairies. But I did not know it was near Saltaire!!I think the monument is quite strange, a little too much modern and showing "male" fairies ..

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  3. I enjoyed the episode of Torchwood based around this story; unnerving though!

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  4. I remember reading about that story a few years ago.. fabulous photo..Judyx

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  5. Well I learn something new everyday by blogging. An interesting story.

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  6. Even I knew about this fairytale
    ;-) It's fascinating and sort of lovely too.

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  7. And they did it all without the aid of Photoshop! The pictures of the fairies are really sweet though. That's so interesting that the location is quite near Saltaire. ~Lili

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  8. I too had no idea this was close to Saltaire...will have to explore the next time I'm in Yorkshire!

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  9. I didn't realize you lived so close to that! I love that story, btw...those clever girls! Can't believe they kept that secret for so long!

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  10. Fantastic piece of art. Wouldn't it have been great if the photos were real?

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  11. That is pretty interesting. I am amazed that they got away with it.

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  12. I had never heard of this either Jenny and it is very interesting. I looked at all 5 photographs and they are quite amazing!

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  13. Very interesting indeed. I love that sculpture/sign.

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  14. What! Doesn't anyone believe in fairies these days?

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  15. I'd read about this before -- a fascinating hoax!

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  16. I suppose next you'll be telling me there's no Tinker Bell either.

    Lovely charade really.

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  17. That is a striking image Jenny and this is such an interesting post. Wasn't there a movie about this story a few years ago or was that about something else? I have a fairy post up today and Diane over at Adventures Before Dementia mentioned yours, so I was happy to read all about the Cottingley Fairies.

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