The Last Fairy Photo

Spooky Sunday 08/10/2023

The Cottingley Fairy photos were taken by cousins Frances Griffiths, 9 years old and Elsie Wright, 16 years of age. It was in 1917 when they had cut out pictures of fairies from the Princess Marys Gift Book and placed those figures onto hairpins, leave and trees and created the famous photos that are known worldwide.

To take the first set of photos, they used Elsie’s father’s camera ( a Midg), and it was Elsie’s mother, upon seeing the photos, took them to the Theosophical Society in Bradford. Elsie’s mother believed the photos to be a true capture of fairies. Even photograph experts at that time said that the photos were genuine.

It was later that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle became involved and believed the fairies that were in the photos to be true. He went on to buy the young girls 2 folding quarter-plate Cameo cameras (manufactured by W Butcher & Sons), so that they could take more photos of the fairies.

The young girls must have felt under immense pressure to produce more of these images especially as the general public began discussing as to whether the photos were real or fake. As the years rolled on and Frances wrote her memoirs, she eventually said the photos were fake- but one of the last photos taken, wasn’t!

It was taken with the second Cameo camera that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle gave and was taken at Cottingley Beck. It is said to have been a nest of fairies that the girls had spotted so took the photo. The photo was named as The Fairy Bower by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and it was the last set of 3 photos that were ever taken.

This photo does seem more translucent and ethereal than the earlier photos so could this be why Frances said this was genuine?

I remember seeing these photos for the 1st time on a tv magazine show and they gave me nightmares as a young girl, even though I had a fairy lore book, which I read on a regular basis.

Whatever the truth is behind this supposed genuine photo, we are still discussing this case over a hundred years since they were taken!