The Birth of a Modern Belief in Fairies
One might reasonably assume that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the cynical and deductive reasoning Sherlock Holmes, must have been one of those skeptical types who are hard to fool. In reality, however, the famous British author was remotely not like his famous character. Late in life, Doyle became a big booster of spiritualism. In his eagerness to credit whatever supported his belief, he became a gullible old fool who fell hard for a hoax perpetrated by two little girls. It began in 1917, in the English village of Cottingley. There, nine-year-old Elsie Wright and her sixteen-year-old old cousin Frances Griffith claimed that they hung around with fairies beside a nearby stream.
Their parents scoffed, so to prove it, the girls borrowed Elsie’s father’s camera, and came back half an hour later with “evidence”. When Elsie’s father developed the film, he was surprised to find a picture of fairies dancing around Frances. However, he dismissed it as a prank by his daughter, who knew her way around cameras. When the girls came up with more fairy photos in subsequent months, Elsie’s father finally forbade them to borrow his camera. That should have been the end of it, but as seen below, it was not.