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Are fairies real?

Many people certainly thought so when, in 1920, an article by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edward Gardner asserted that real fairies had been photographed. The article was called 'An Epoch-Making Event - Fairies Photographed'. It appeared in the Christmas issue of the Strand magazine, an illustrated British magazine for families.

The article was illustrated with two photographs supplied by a Yorkshire family, taken in a dell near their house in Cottingley. One of the photos showed a friend talking to a gnome; the other showed their daughter gazing past a group of tiny fairies with butterfly wings.

Though both Conan Doyle and Gardner were interested in paranormal phenomena, and willing to believe in it, they carried out investigations to ensure that the photos were genuine. They could find no evidence of any fraud. They wrote another article, this time illustrated by three more photographs of the Cottingley Fairies. Both Conan Doyle and Gardner were convinced that the fairies were real.

But in 1983, the two ladies who had taken the photographs when they were children confessed that they had faked them. They had used hand-drawn cut-outs of the 'fairies', fixed in place by hatpins.

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Last updated: April 2010. Copyright © Rohini Chowdhury 2002. All rights reserved.

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