The Creator of Sherlock Holmes Went All In on His Belief that Fairies Were Real
In December, 1920, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle published a cringe-worthy article, in which he urged the public to accept that fairies actually exist. It opened him to significant ridicule from a press that was equal parts puzzled, and equal parts embarrassed for the hitherto respected author. None of that dissuaded Doyle, who followed the first article with a second in 1921, that described even more fairy sightings. A year later, in 1922, he capped it off with the publication of his most awkward book, The Coming of the Fairies.
As it turned out, Sherlock Holmes’s creator should have been more skeptical. In 1983, more than half a century after Arthur Conan Doyle’s death, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffith revealed the truth. They published an article, in which they confessed that it had all been a hoax. They had used illustrations from a contemporary popular children’s book, and simply drew wings on them. The girls had kicked off the prank to get back at adults who teased them for “playing with fairies”. The joke snowballed, however, and got out of hand once the Theosophical Society and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle got involved. Once that happened, they could not think of a graceful way to back out. So they just kept the hoax going, until they finally came clean, six decades later.