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Member of the Executive Committee of the Theosophical Society (England) 





Author of "The New Revelation," "The Vital Message/ 
"Wanderings of a Spiritualist" 



COPTRIOHT, 1921, 1922, 



This book contains reproductions of the 
famous Cottingley photographs, and gives 
the whole of the evidence in connection with 
them. The diligent reader is in almost as 
good a position as I am to form a judgment 
upon the authenticity of the pictures. This 
narrative is not a special plea for that au- 
thenticity, but is simply a collection of facts 
the inferences from which may be accepted 
or rejected as the reader may think fit. 

I would warn the critic, however, not to 
be led away by the sophistry that because 
some professional trickster, apt at the game 
of deception, can produce a somewhat simi- 
lar effect, therefore the originals were pro- 
duced in the same way. There are few real- 
ities which cannot be imitated, and the an- 
cient argument that because conjurers on 
their own prepared plates or stages can pro- 
duce certain results, therefore similar re- 


suits obtained by untrained people under 
natural conditions are also false, is surely 
discounted by the intelligent public. 

I would add that this whole subject of the 
objective existence of a subhuman form of 
life has nothing to do with the larger and 
far more vital question of spiritualism. I 
should be sorry if my arguments in favour 
of the latter should be in any way weakened 
by my exposition of this very strange epi- 
sode, which has really no bearing upon the 
continued existence of the individual. 

Arthur Conan Doyle. 

March 1922. 














MR. E. L. GARDNER FroTitispiece 






WAS TAKEN IN 1917 48 

FRANCES IN 1920 48 



WERE DANCING IN 1917 (PHOTO 1920) ... 64 














The series of incidents set forth in this 
little volume represent either the most elab- 
orate and ingenious hoax every played upon 
the public, or else they constitute an event 
in human history which may in the future 
appear to have been epoch-making in its 
character. It is hard for the mind to grasp 
what the ultimate results may be if we have 
actually proved the existence upon the sur- 
face of this planet of a population which 
may be as numerous as the human race, 
which pursues its own strange life in its own 
strange way, and which is only separated 
from ourselves by some difference of vibra- 



tions. We see objects within the limits which 
make up our colour spectrum, with infinite 
vibrations, unused by us, on either side of 
them. If we could conceive a race of beings 
which were constructed in material which 
threw out shorter or longer vibrations, they 
would be invisible unless we could tune our- 
selves up or tone them down. It is exactly 
that power of tuning up and adapting itself 
to other vibrations which constitutes a clair- 
voyant, and there is nothing scientifically 
impossible, so far as I can see, in some peo- 
ple seeing that which is invisible to others. 
If the objects are indeed there, and if the 
inventive power of the human brain is 
turned upon the problem, it is likely that 
some sort of psychic spectacles, inconceiv- 
able to us at the moment, will be invented, 
and that we shall all be able to adapt our- 
selves to the new conditions. If high-ten- 
sion electricity can be converted by a me- 
chanical contrivance into a lower tension, 
keyed to other uses, then it is hard to see 
why something analogous might not occur 
with the vibrations of ether and the waves 
of light. 


This, however, is mere speculation and 
leads me to the fact that early in May 1920 
I heard, in conversation with my friend Mr. 
Gow, the Editor of LigJit, that alleged photo- 
graphs of fairies had been taken. He had 
not actually seen them, but he referred me 
to Miss Scatcherd, a lady for whose knowl- 
edge and judgment I had considerable re- 
spect. I got into touch with her and found 
that she also had not seen the photographs, 
but she had a friend. Miss Gardner, 
who had actually done so. On May 13 Miss 
Scatcherd wrote to me saying that she was 
getting on the trail, and including an extract 
from a letter of Miss Gardner, which ran as 
follows. I am quoting actual documents in 
this early stage, for I think there are many 
who would like a complete inside view of all 
that led up to so remarkable an episode. 
Alluding to her brother Mr. Gardner, she 

**You know that Edward is a Theosophist, 
has been for years, and now he is mostly en- 
gaged with lecturing and other work for 
the Society — ^and although for years I have 



regarded him as bathed in error and almost 
past praying for, I now find a talk with him 
an inspiring privilege. I am so very thank- 
ful that I happened to be in Willesden when 
his bereavement took place, for it was so 
wonderful to watch him, and to see how mar- 
vellously his faith and beliefs upheld and 
comforted him. He will probably devote 
more and more of his time and strength to 
going about the country lecturing, etc. 

**I wish you could see a photo he has. He 
believes in fairies, pixies, goblins, etc. — chil- 
dren, in many cases, really see them and play 
with them. He has got into touch with a 
family in Bradford where the little girl, 
Elsie, and her cousin, Frances, constantly 
go into woods and play with the fairies. -^ 
The father and mother are sceptical and 
have no sympathy with their nonsense, as 
they call it, but an aunt, whom Edward has 
interviewed, is quite sympathetic with the 
girls. Some little time ago, Elsie said she 
wanted to photograph them, and begged her 
father to lend his camera. For long he re- 
fused, but at last she managed to get the 
loan of it and one plate. Off she and Frances 


went into the woods near a water-fall. 
Frances ' 'ticed' them, as they call it, and 
Elsie stood ready with the camera. Soon the 
three fairies appeared, and one pixie danc- 
ing in Frances' aura. Elsie snapped and 
hoped for the best. It was a long time be- 
fore the father would develop the photo, but 
at last he did, and to his utter amazement 
the four sweet little figures came out beauti- 
fully ! 

"Edward got the negative and took it to 
a specialist in photography who would know 
a fake at once. Sceptical as he was before 
he tested it, afterwards he offered £100 down 
for it. He pronounced it absolutely genuine 
and a perfectly remarkable photograph. 
/ Edward has it enlarged and hanging in his 
' hall. He is very interested in it and as soon 
as possible he is going to Bradford to see 
the children. What do you think of this? 
/ Edward says the fairies are on the same 
\ line of evolution as the winged insects, etc., 
etc. I fear I cannot follow all his reason- 
ings, but I knew you would be keenly inter- 
ested. I wish you could see that photo and 



another one of the girls playing with the 
quaintest goblin imaginable!" 

This letter filled me with hopes, and I re- 
newed my pursuit of the photographs. I 
learned that they were two in number and 
that they had been sent for inspection to 
Miss Blomfield, a friend of the family. My 
chase turned, therefore, in that direction, 
and in reply to a letter of inquiry I received 
the following answer: 

The Myrtles, Beckenham, 
June 21, 1920. 
Dear Sir, 

I am sending the two fairy pictures ; 
they are interesting, are they not ? 

I am sure my cousin would be pleased for 
you to see them. But he said (and wrote it 
to me afterwards) that he did not want 
them to be used in any way at present. I 
believe he has plans in regard to them, and 
the pictures are being copyrighted. I don't 
think the copyright will be his. He has not 
yet finished his investigations. I asked him 
if I might photograph them myself so as to 
have a few prints to give to friends inter- 


ested, but he wrote that he would rather 
nothing was done at present. 

I think my cousin is away from home just 
now. But his name is Edward L. Gardner, 
and he is President of one of the branches 
of the Theosophical Society (Blavatsky 
Lodge), and he lectures fairly often at their 
Hall (Mortimer Hall, Mortimer Square, 
W.). He lectured there a few weeks ago, 
and showed the fairies on the screen and 
told what he knew about them. 

Yours sincerely, 

E. Blomfield. 

This letter enclosed the two very remark- 
able photographs which are reproduced in 
this volume, that which depicted the dancing'"^, 
goblin, and the other of wood elves in a 
ring. An explanatory note setting forth 
the main points of each is appended to the 
reproductions. I was naturally delighted 
at the wonderful pictures, and wrote back 
thanking Miss Blomfield for her courtesy, 
and suggesting that an inquiry should be set 
on foot which would satisfy me as to the 
genuine nature of the photographs. If this 



were clearly established I hoped that I might 
he privileged to help Mr. Gardner in giving 
publicity to the discovery. In reply I had 
the following letter : 

The Myrtles, Beckenliam, 
June 23, 1920. 
Dear Sm Arthur, 

I am so glad you like the fairies ! I 
should be only too glad to help in any way if 
I could, but there is so little I can do. Had 
the photographs been mine (I mean the neg- 
atives) , I should have been most pleased that 
anything so lovely in the way of information 
should have been introduced to the public 
under such auspices. But it would, as things 
are, be necessary to ask my cousin. I be- 
lieve he wants people to know, but, as I 
wrote before, I do not know his plans, and 
I'm not sure if he is ready. 

It has occurred to me since writing to you 
that it would have been better had I given 
you his sister's address. She is a most sen- 
sible and practical person, much engaged 
in social work, with which her sympathetic 
nature and general efficiency make her very 


She believes the fairy photographs to be 
quite genuine. Edward is a clever man — 
and a good one. His evidence on any of the 
affairs of life would, I am sure, be consid- 
ered most reliable by all who knew him, both 
for veracity and sound judgment. I hope 
these details will not bore you, but I thought 
perhaps some knowledge of the people who, 
so to say, ''discovered'^ the photographs 
would help in taking you one step nearer the 
source. I do not see any opening for fraud 
or hoax, though at first when I saw the prints 
I thought there must be some other expla- 
nation than the simple one that they were 
what they seemed. They appeared too good 
to be true! But every little detail I have 
since heard has added to my conviction that 
they are genuine ; though I have only what 
Edward tells me to go upon. He is hoping 
to obtain more from the same girls. 

Yours sincerely, 

E. Blomfield. 

At about the same time I received a letter 
from another lady who had some knowledge 
of the matter. It ran thus: 




29 Croftdown Road, Highgate Road, N.W., 
Deak Sir Arthur, *^^^^^ ^4, 1920. 

I am glad to hear that you are in- 
terested in the fairies. If they were really 
taken, as there seems good reason to 
believe, the event is no less than the dis- 
covery of a new world. It may not be 
out of place to mention that when I ex- 
amined them with a magnifying glass I 
noticed, as an artist, that the hands do 
not appear to be quite the same as ours. 
Though the little figures look otherwise so 
human, the hands seemed to me something 
like this. (There followed a sketch of a sort 
of fin.) The beard in the little gnome seems 
to me to be some sort of insect-like appen- 
dage, though it would, no doubt, be called a 
beard by a clairvoyant seeing him. Also it 
occurs to me that the whiteness of the fairies 
may be due to their lack of shadow, which 
may also explain their somewhat artificial- 
Jooking flatness. yours sincerely. 

May Bowley. 

I was now in a stronger position, since I 
had actually seen the photographs and 


learned that Mr. Gardner was a solid person 
with a reputation for sanity and character. 
I therefore wrote to him stating the links 
by which I had reached him, and saying how 
interested I was in the whole matter, and 
how essential it seemed that the facts should 
be given to the public, so that free investiga- 
tion might be possible before it was too late. 
To this letter I had the following reply : 

5 Craven Road, Marlesden, A^.TT.IO. 
Deae Sir, ^^^^ 25, 1920. 

Your interesting letter of the 22nd 
has just reached me, and very willingly I 

will assist you in any way that may be 

With regard to the photographs, the story 
is rather a long one and I have only gath- 
ered it by going very carefully. The chil- 
dren who were concerned are very shy and 
reserved indeed. . . . They are of a me- 
chanic's family of Yorkshire, and the chil- 
dren are said to have played with fairies 
and elves in the woods near their village 
since babyhood. I will not attempt to nar- 
rate the story here, however — ^perhaps we 



may meet for that — but when I at length ob- 
tained a view of the rather poor prints it so 
impressed me I begged for the actual nega- 
tives. These I submitted to two first-class 
photographic experts, one in London and 
one in Leeds. The first, who was unfamiliar 
with such matters, declared the plates to be 
perfectly genuine and unf aked, but inexpli- 
cable ! The second, who did know something 
of the subject and had been instrumental 
in exposing several ''psychic" fakes, was 
also entirely satisfied. Hence I proceeded. 
I am hopeful of getting more photographs, 
but the immediate difficulty is to arrange for 
the two girls to be together. They are 16 or 
17 years old and beginning to work and are 
separated by a few miles. It may be we can 
manage it and thus secure photographs of 
the other varieties besides those obtained. 

I These nature spirits are of the non-individu- 
alized order and I should greatly like to se- 

■^ cure some of the higher. But two children 

such as these are, are rare, and I fear now 

that we are late because almost certainly 

the inevitable will shortly happen, one of 



them will *'fall in love" and then — ^hey 
presto ! ! 

By the way, I am anxious to avoid the 
money consideration. I may not succeed, 
but would far rather not introduce it. We 
are out for Truth, and nothing soils the way 
so quickly. So far as I am concerned you 
shall have everything I can properly give 


Sincerely yours, 
(Sgd.) Edw. L. Gardner. 

This letter led to my going to London and 
seeing Mr. Gardner, whom I found to be 
quiet, well-balanced, and reserved — ^not in 
the least of a wild or visionary type. He 
showed me beautiful enlargements of these 
two wonderful pictures, and he gave me 
much information which is embodied in my 
subsequent account. Neither he nor I had 
actually seen the girls, and it was arranged 
that he should handle the personal side of 
the matter, while I should examine the re- 
sults and throw them into literary shape. 
It was arranged between us that he should 
visit the village as soon as convenient, and 



make the acquaintance of everyone con- 
cerned. In the meantime, I showed the pos- 
itives, and sometimes the negatives, to sev- 
eral friends whose opinion upon psychic 
matters I respected. 

Of these Sir Oliver Lodge holds a premier 
place. I can still see his astonished and in- 
terested face as he gazed at the pictures, 
which I placed before him in the hall of the 
Athena3um Club. With his usual caution he 
refused to accept them at their face value, 
and suggested the theory that the Califor- 
nian Classical dancers had been taken and 
their picture superimposed upon a rural 
British background. I argued that we had 
certainly traced the pictures to two children 
of the artisan class, and that such photo- 
graphic tricks would be entirely beyond 
them, but I failed to convince him, nor am 
I sure that even now he is whole-hearted in 
the matter. 

My most earnest critics came from among 
the spiritualists, to whom a new order of 
being as remote from spirits as they are 
from human beings was an unfamiliar idea, 
and who feared, not unnaturally, that their 


intrusion would complicate that spiritual 
controversy which is vital to so many of us. 
One of these was a gentleman whom I will 
call Mr. Lancaster, who, by a not unusual 
paradox, combined considerable psychic 
powers, including both clairvoyance and 
clairaudience, with great proficiency in the 
practice of his very prosaic profession. He 
had claimed that he had frequently seen 
these little people with his own eyes, and I, 
therefore, attached importance to his opin- 
ion. This gentleman had a spirit guide (I 
have no objection to the smile of the sceptic) , 
and to him he referred the question. The 
answer showed both the strength and the 
weakness of such psychic inquiries. Writ- 
ing to me in July 1920, he said : 

^'Be Pilot ograplis : The more I think of it 
the less I like it (I mean the one with the 
Parisian-coiffed fairies). My own guide 
says it was taken by a fair man, short, with 
his hair brushed back ; he has a studio with a 
lot of cameras, some of which are * turned by 
a handle. ^ He did not make it to sell Spir- 
itualists a ^pup,' but did it to please the 



little girl in the picture who wrote fairy 
stories wMch he illustrated in this fashion. 
He is not a Spiritualist, but would laugh 
very much if anyone was taken in by it. He 
does not live near where we were, and the 
place is all different, i.e. the houses, instead 
of being in straight lines, are dropped about 
all over the place. Apparently he was not 
English. I should think it was either Den- 
mark or Los Angeles by the description, 
which I give you for what it is worth. . 

*'I should very much like the lens which 
would take persons in rapid motion with the 
clarity of the photo in question, it must 
work at F 4-5 and cost fifty guineas if a 
penny, and not the sort of lens one would 
imagine the children in an artisan's house- 
hold would possess in a hand camera. And 
yet with the speed with which it was taken 
the waterfall in the background is blurred 
sufficiently to justify a one second's expo- 
sure at least. What a doubting Thomas ! I 
was told the other day that, in the unlikely 
event of my ever reaching heaven, I should 
(a) Insist on starting a card file index of 
the angels, and (h) Starting a rifle range to 


guard against the possibility of invasion 
from Hell. This being my unfortunate rep- 
utation at the hands of the people who claim 
to know me must discount my criticisms as 
carping — to a certain extent, at all events. ' ' 

These psychic imxDressions and messages 
are often as from one who sees in a glass 
darkly and contain a curious mixture of 
truth and error. Upon my submitting this 
message to Mr. Gardner he was able to as- 
sure me that the description was, on the 
whole, a very accurate one of Mr. Snelling 
and his surroundings, the gentleman who 
had actually handled the negatives, subjected 
them to various tests and made enlarged 
positives. It was, therefore, this interme- 
diate incident, and not the original inception 
of the affair, which had impressed itself 
upon Mr. Lancaster's guide. All this is, of 
course, quite non- evidential to the ordinary 
reader, but I am laying all the dociunents 
upon the table. 

Mr. Lancaster's opinion had so much 
weight with us, and we were so impressed 
by the necessity of sparing no possible jjains 



to get at truth, that we submitted the plates 
to fresh examination, as detailed in the fol- 
lowing letter : 

5 Craven Road, Harlesden, N.W.IO, 

-r. c A J^^y 12, 1920. 

Dear Sir Arthur, 

Just a line to report progress and ac- 
knowledge your kind letters and enclosure 
from Kodak's. 

A week back, after your reference to 
Mr. Lancaster's opinion, I thought I would 
get a more careful examination of the 
negatives made than before, though that 
was searching enough. So I went over to 
Mr. Snelling's at Harrow and had a long 
interview with him, again impressing him 
with the importance of being utterly certain. 
I told you, I think, that this Mr. Snelling 
has had a varied and expert connection of 
over thirty years with the Autotyi3e Com- 
pany and lUingworth's large photographic 
factory and has himself turned out some 
beautiful work in natural and artificial stu- 
dio studies. He recently started for him- 
self at Wealdstone (Harrow) and is doing 


Mr. Snelling's report on the two negatives 
is positive and most decisive. He says he is 
perfectly certain of two things connected 
with these photos, namely: 

1. One exposure only; 

2. All the figures of the fairies moved dur- 
ing exposure, which was *' instantaneous." 

As I put all sorts of pressing questions to 
him, relating to paper or cardboard figures, 
and backgrounds and paintings, and all the 
artifices of the modern studio, he proceeded 
to demonstrate by showing me other nega- 
tives and prints that certainly supported 
his view. He added that anyone of consid- 
erable experience could detect the dark back- 
ground and double exposure in the negative 
at once. Movement was as easy, as he 
pointed out in a crowd of aeroplane photos 
he had by him. I do not pretend to follow 
all his points, but I am bound to say he 
thoroughly convinced me of the above two, 
which seem to me to dispose of all the ob- 
jections hitherto advanced when they are 
taken together! Mr. S. is willing to make 



any declaration embodying the above and 
stakes his reputation unhesitatingly on 
their truth. 

I am away from London from Wednes- 
day next till the 28th when I go on to Bing- 
ley for one or two days' investigation on the 
spot. I propose that you have the two nega- 
tives, which are carefully packed and can 
be posted safely, for this fortnight or so. 
If you would rather not handle them I will 
send them to Mr. West of Kodak's, or have 
them taken to him for his opinion, for I 
think, as you say, it would be worth having, 
if he has had direct and extensive practical 

I am very anxious now to see this right 
through, as, though I felt pretty sure before, 
I am more than ever satisfied now after that 
interview the other day. 

Yours sincerely, 

Edw. L. Gardner. 

After receiving this message and getting 
possession of the negatives I took them my- 
self to the Kodak Company's Offices in 



Photograph taken by Frances. Fairly bright flay in September, 1017. 
The "Midg" camera. Distance. S ft. Time, 1/aOth sec. Tlie ori.ginal 
negative has been tested, enlarged, and analysed in the same exhaustive 
manner as A. This plate was l>adly under-exposed. Elsie was playin.g 
witli tlie gnome and beckoning it to come on to lier knee. 

" 52 

5 o 


Kingsway, where I saw Mr. West and an- 
other expert of the Company. They ex- 
amined the plates carefully, and neither of 
them could find any evidence of superposi- 
tion, or other trick. On the other hand, they 
were of opinion that if they set to work with 
all their knowledge and resources they could 
produce such pictures by natural means, and 
therefore they would not undertake to say 
that these were preternatural. This, of 
course, was quite reasonable if the pictures 
are judged only as technical productions, but 
it rather savours of the old discredited anti- 
spiritualistic argument that because a 
trained conjurer can produce certain effects 
under his own conditions, therefore some 
woman or child who gets similar effects must 
get them by conjuring. It was clear that at 
the last it was the character and surround- 
ings of the children upon which the inquiry 
must turn, rather than upon the photos 
themselves. I had already endeavoured to 
open up human relations with the elder girl 
by sending her a book, and I had received 
the following little note in reply from her 
father : 



31 Main Street, Cottingley, Bingley, 

July 12, 1920. 
Dear Sir, 

I hope you will forgive us for not an- 
swering your letter sooner and thanking you 
for the beautiful book you so kindly sent to 
Elsie. She is delighted with it. I can as- 
sure you we do appreciate the honour you 
have done her. The book came last Satur- 
day morning an hour after we had left for 
the seaside for our holidays, so we did not 
receive it until last night. We received a 
letter from Mr. Gardner at the same time, 
and he proposes coming to see us at the end 
of July. Would it be too long to wait until 
then, when we could explain what we know 
about it? 

Yours very gratefully, 

Arthur Wright. 

It was evident, however, that we must get 
into more personal touch, and with this ob- 
ject Mr. Gardner went North and inter- 
viewed the whole family, making a thorough 
investigation of the circumstances at the 
spot. The result of his journey is given in 

. 34 


the article which I published in the Strand 
Magazine, which covers all the ground. I 
will only add the letter he wrote to me after 
his return from Yorkshire. 

5 Craven Road, Harlesden, N.W. 10, 

July 31, 1920. 

My dear Conan Doyle, 

Yours just to hand, and as I have now 
had an hour to sort things out I write at once 
so that you have the enclosed before you at 
the earliest moment. You must be very 
pressed, so I put the statement as simply as 
possible, leaving you to use just what you 
think fit. Prepared negatives, prints of 
quarter, half-plate, and enlarged sizes, and 
lantern slides, I have all here. 

Also on Tuesday I shall have my own 
photographs of the valley scenery includ- 
ing the two spots shown in the fairy prints, 
and also prints of the two children taken in 
1917 with their shoes and stockings off, just 
as they played in the beck at the rear of their 
house. I also have a print of Elsie showing 
her hand. 

With regard to the points you raise ; 



1. I have definite leave and permission to 
act as regards the use made of these photo- 
graphs in any way I think best. 

Publication may be made of them, the 
only reserve being that full names and ad- 
dresses shall be withheld. 

2. Copies are ready here for England and 
U. S. A. 

3. . . . The Kodak people and also the 
Illingworth Co. are unwilling to testify. The 
former, of course, you know of. Illing- 
worths claim that they could produce, by 
means of clever studio painting and model- 
ling, a similar negative. Another Com- 
pany's expert made assertions concerning 
the construction of the *' model" that I found 
were entirely erroneous directly I saw the 
real ground! They, however, barred any 
publication. The net result, besides Snell- 
ing's views, is that the photograph could be 
produced by studio work, but there is no 
evidence positively of such work in the neg- 
atives. (I might add that Snelling, whom 
I saw again yesterday evening, scouts the 
claim that such negatives could be produced. 



He states that he would pick such a one out 
without hesitation!) 

4. My report is enclosed and you are at 
perfect liberty to use this just as you please. 

The father, Mr. Arthur Wright, im- 
pressed me favourably. He was perfectly 
open and free about the whole matter. He 
explained his position — he simply did not 
understand the business, but is quite clear 
and positive that the plate he took out of the 
Midg camera was the one he put in the same 
day. His work is that of electrician to an 
estate in the neighbourhood near. He is 
clear-headed and very intelligent, and gives 
one the impression of being open and honest. 
I learnt the reason of the family's cordial 
treatment of myself. Mrs. Wright, a few 
years back, came into touch with theosoph- 
ical teachings and speaks of these as hav- 
ing done her good. My own connection with 
the Theosophical Society she knew of and 
this gave them confidence. Hence the very 
cordial reception I have met with, which 
somewhat had puzzled me. 

By the way, I think "L.'s" guide ran up 
against innocent little Snelling I He matches 



the description quite well, as I realized last 
night. And he did prepare the new nega- 
tives from which the prints you have were 
made, and he has a room full up with weird 
machines with handles and devices used in 
photography. . . . 

Sincerely yours, 
Edw. L. Gardner. 

I trust that the reader will agree that up 
to this point we had not proceeded with any 
undue rashness or credulity, and that we 
had taken all common-sense steps to test the 
case, and had no alternative, if we were un- 
prejudiced seekers for truth, but to go ahead 
with it, and place our results before the pub- 
lic, so that others might discover the fallacy 
which we had failed to find. I must apolo- 
gize if some of the ground in the Strand ar- 
ticle which follows has already been cov- 
ered in this introductory chapter. 




Should the incidents here narrated, and 
the photographs attached, hold their own 
against the criticism which they will excite, 
it is no exaggeration to say that they will 
mark an epoch in hmnan thought. I put 
them and all the evidence before the public 
for examination and judgment. If I am my- 
self asked whether I consider the case to be 
absolutely and finally proved, I should an- 
swer that in order to remove the last faint 
shadow of doubt I should wish to see the 
result repeated before a disinterested wit- 
ness. At the same time, I recognize the dif- 
ficulty .of such a request, since rare results 
must be obtained when and how they can. 
But short of final and absolute proof, I con- 
sider, after carefully going into every pos- 
sible source of error, that a strong primor 



facie case has been built up. The cry of 
**fake" is sure to be raised, and will make 
some impression upon those who have not 
had the opportunity of knowing the peo- 
ple concerned, or the place. On the photo- 
graphic side every objection has been consid- 
ered and adequately met. The pictures 
stand or fall together. Both are false, or 
both are true. All the circmnstances point 
to the latter alternative, and yet in a matter 
involving so tremendous a new departure 
one needs overpowering evidence before one 
can say that there is no conceivable loophole 
for error. 

It was about the month of May in this 
year that I received the information from 
Miss Felicia Scatcherd, so well known in 
several departments of hinnan thought, to 
the effect that two photographs of fairies 
had been taken in the North of England un- 
der circumstances which seemed to put fraud 
out of the question. The statement would 
have appealed to me at any time, but I hap- 
pened at the moment to be collecting ma- 
terial for an article on fairies, now com- 
pleted, and I had accumulated a surprising 


number of cases of people who claimed to 
be able to see these little creatures. The 
evidence was so complete and detailed, with 
such good names attached to it, that it was 
difficult to believe that it was false; but, 
being by nature of a somewhat sceptical 
turn, I felt that something closer was needed 
before I could feel personal conviction and 
assure myself that these were not thought- 
forms conjured up by the imagination or 
expectation of the seers. The rumour of the 
photographs interested me deeply, there- 
fore, and following the matter up from one 
lady informant to another, I came at last 
upon Mr. Edward L. Gardner, who has been 
ever since my most efficient collaborator, to 
whom all credit is due. Mr. Gardner, it may 
be remarked, is a member of the Executive 
Committee of the Theosophical Society, and 
a well-known lecturer upon occult subjects. 
He had not himself at that time mastered 
the whole case, but all he had he placed 
freely at my disposal. I had already seen 
prints of the photographs, but I was relieved 
to find that he had the actual negatives, and 
that it was from them, and not from the 



prints, that two expert photographers, es- 
pecially Mr. Snelling of 26 The Bridge, 
Wealdstone, Harrow, had already formed 
their conclusions in favour of the genuine- 
ness of the pictures. Mr. Gardner tells his 
own story presently, so I will simply saj 
that at that period he had got into direct 
and friendly touch with the Carpenter fam- 
ily. We are compelled to use a pseudomm 
and to withhold the exact address, for it is 
clear that their lives would be much inter- 
rupted by correspondence and callers if their 
identity were too clearly indicated. At the 
same time there would be, no doubt, no ob- 
jection to any small committee of inquiry 
verifying the facts for themselves if this 
anonymity were respected. For the present, 
however, we shall simply call them the Car- 
penter family in the village of Dalesby, 
West Riding. 

Some three years before, according to our 
information, the daughter and the niece of 
Mr. Carpenter, the former being sixteen and 
the other ten years of age, had taken the 
two photographs — the one in summer, the 
other in early autumn. The father was quite 


agnostic in the matter, but as his daughter 
claimed that she and her cousin when they 
were together continually saw fairies in the 
wood and had come to be on familiar and 
friendly terms with them, he entrusted her 
with one plate in his camera. The result 
was the picture of the dancing elves, which 
considerably amazed the father when he de- 
veloped the film that evening. The little 
girl looking across at her playmate, to inti- 
mate that the time had come to press the 
button, is Alice, the niece, while the older 
girl, who was taken some months later with 
the quaint gnome, is Iris, the daughter. The 
story ran that the girls were so excited in 
the evening that one pressed her way into 
the small dark-room in which the father was 
about to develop, and that as she saw the 
forms of the fairies showing through the 
solution she cried out to the other girl, who 
was palpitating outside the door : *'0h, Alice, 
Alice, the fairies are on the plate — they are 
on the plate ! " It was indeed a triumph for 
the children, who had been smiled at, as so 
many children are smiled at by an incredu- 



lous world for stating what their own senses 
have actually recorded. 

The father holds a position of trust in con- 
nection with some local factory, and the fam- 
ily are well known and respected. That they 
are cultivated is shown by the fact that Mr. 
Gardner's advances towards them were made 
more easy because Mrs. Carpenter was a 
reader of theosophical teachings and had 
gained spiritual good from them. A corre- 
spondence had arisen and all their letters 
were frank and honest, professing some 
amazement at the stir which the affair 
seemed likely to produce. 

Thus the matter stood after my meeting 
with Mr. Gardner, but it was clear that this 
was not enough. We must get closer to the 
facts. The negatives were taken round to 
Kodak, Ltd., where two experts were unable 
to find any flaw, but refused to testify to the 
genuineness of them, in view of some pos- 
sible trap. An amateur photographer of ex- 
perience refused to accept them on the 
ground of the elaborate and Parisian coif- 
fure of the little ladies. Another photo- 
graphic company, which it would be cruel to 


name, declared that the background con- 
sisted of theatrical properties, and that 
therefore the picture was a worthless fake. 
I leaned heavily upon Mr. Snelling's whole- 
hearted endorsement, quoted later in this ar- 
ticle, and also consoled myself by the broad 
view that if the local conditions were as re- 
ported, which we proposed to test, then it 
was surely impossible that a little village 
with an amateur photographer could have 
the plant and the skill to turn out a fake 
which could not be detected by the best ex- 
perts in London. 

The matter being in this state, Mr. Gard- 
ner volunteered to go up at once and report 
— an expedition which I should have wished 
to share had it not been for the pressure of 
work before my approaching departure for 
Australia. Mr. Gardner's report is here ap- 
pended : 

5 Craven Road, Harlesden, iV.TF.lO, 

Juhj 29, 1920. 
It was early in this year, 1920, that I 
heard from a friend of photographs of fair- 
ies having been successfully taken in the 



North of England. I made some inquiries, 
and these led to prints being sent to me with 
the names and address of the children who 
were said to have taken them. The corre- 
spondence that followed seemed so innocent 
and promising that I begged the loan of the 
actual negatives — and two quarter-plates 
came by post a few days after. One was a 
fairly clear one, the other much under- 

The negatives proved to be truly astonish- 
ing photographs indeed, for there was no 
sign of double exposure nor anything 
other than ordinary straightforward work. 
I cycled over to Harrow to consult an expert 
photographer of thirty years' practical ex- 
perience whom I knew I could trust for a 
sound opinion. Without any explanation I 
passed the plates over and asked what he 
thought of them. After examining the 
*' fairies" negative carefully, exclamations 
began: **This is the most extraordinary 
thing I 've ever seen ! " ' * Single exposure ! ' ' 
** Figures have moved!" "Why, it's a gen- 
uine photograph I Wherever did it come 



I need hardly add that enlargements were 
made and subjected to searching examina- 
tion — without any modification of opinion. 
The immediate upshot was that a ** positive" 
was taken from each negative, that the orig- 
inals might be preserved carefully un- 
touched, and then new negatives were pre- 
pared and intensified to serve as better print- 
ing medimns. The originals are just as re- 
ceived and in my keeiDing now. Some good 
prints and lantern slides were soon pre- 

In May I used the slides, with others, to 
illustrate a lecture given in the Mortimer 
Hall, London, and this aroused considerable 
interest, largely because of these pictures 
and their story. A week or so later I re- 
ceived a letter from Sir A. Conan Doyle ask- 
ing for information concerning them, some 
report, I imderstood, having reached him 
from a mutual friend. A meeting with Sir 
Arthur followed, and the outcome was that 
I agreed to hasten my proposed personal 
investigation into the origin of the photo- 
graphs, and carry this through at once in- 



stead of waiting till September, when I 
should be in the North on other matters. 

In consequence, to-day, July 29, 1 am just 
back in London from one of the most inter- 
esting and surprising excursions that it has 
ever been my fortune to make I 

We had time, before I went, to obtain opin- 
ions on the original negatives from other ex- 
pert photographers, and one or two of these 
were adverse rather than favourable. Not 
that any would say positively that the photo- 
graphs were faked, but two did claim that 
they could produce the same class of nega- 
tive by studio work involving painted mod- 
els, etc., and it was suggested further that 
the little girl in the first picture was stand- 
ing behind a table heaped up with fern and 
moss, that the toad-stool was unnatural, that 
in the gnome photo the girl's hand was not 
her own, that uniform shading was question- 
able, and so on. All of this had its weight, 
and though I went North with as little bias 
one way or the other as possible, I felt quite 
prepared to find that a personal investiga- 
tion would disclose some evidence of falsity. 

The lengthy journey completed, I reached 

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a quaint, old-world village in Yorkshire, 
found the house, and was cordially received. 
Mrs. C. and her daughter I. (the girl as 
shown playing with the gnome) were both 
at home to meet me, and Mr. C, the father, 
came in shortly afterwards. 

Several of the objections raised by the 
professionals were disposed of almost at 
once, as, a half-hour after reaching the 
house, I was exploring a charming little val- 
ley, directly at the rear, with a stream of 
water running through, where the children 
had been accustomed to see and play with 
the fairies. I found the bank behind which 
the child, with her shoes and stockings off, 
is shown as standing ; toad-stools exactly as 
in the photograph were about in plenty, 
quite as big and hearty-looking. And the 
girl's hand ? Well, she laughingly made me 
promise not to say much about it, it is so 
very long ! I stood on the spots shown and 
easily identified every feature. Then, in 
course of eliciting all that one could learn 
about the affair, I gathered the following, 
which, for the sake of conciseness, I set out 
below : 



Camera used: ''The Midg" quarter-plate. 
Plates: Imperial Rapid. 

Fairies photo : July 1917. Day brilliantly 
hot and sunny. About 3 p. m. Distance: 
4 feet. Time : l-50th second. 

Gnome photo: September 1917. Day 
bright, but not as above. About 4 o'clock. 
Distance : 8 feet. Time : l-50th second. 

I. was sixteen years old; her cousin A. 
was ten years. Other photographs were at- 
tempted but proved partial failures, and 
plates were not kept. 

Colouring: The palest of green, pink, 
mauve. Much more in the wings than in the 
bodies, which are very pale to white. The 
gnome is described as seeming to be in black 
tights, reddish-brown jersey, and red 
pointed cap. He was swinging his pipes, 
holding them in his left hand and was just 
stepping up on to I. 's knee when A. snapped 

A., the visiting cousin, went away soon 

after, and I. says they must be together to 

' * take photographs. ' ' Fortunately they will 

meet in a few weeks' time, and they promise 



me to try to get some more. I. added she 
would very much like to send me one of a 
fairy flying. 

Mr. C. 's testimony was clear and decisive. 
His daughter had jDleaded to be allowed to 
use the camera. At first he demurred, but 
ultimately, after dinner one Saturday, he 
put just one plate in the Midg and gave it 
to the girls. They returned in less than an 
hour and begged him to develop the plate as 
I. had *' taken a photograph." He did so, 
with, to him, the bewildering result shown 
in the print of the fairies I 

Mrs. C. says she remembers quite well 
that the girls were only away from the house 
a short time before they brought the camera 

Extraordinary and amazing as these 
photographs may appear, I am now quite 
convinced of their entire genuineness, as in- 
deed would everyone else be who had the 
same evidence of transparent honesty and 
simplicity that I had. I am adding nothing 
by way of explanations or theories of my 
own, though the need for two people, prefer- 
ably children, is fairly obvious for photog- 



raphj, in order to assist in the strengthen- 
ing of the etheric bodies. Beyond this I 
prefer to leave the above statement as a 
plain, unvarnished narrative of my connec- 
tion with the incidents. 

I need only add that no attempt appears 
ever to have been made by the family to 
make these photographs public, and what- 
ever has been done in that direction locally 
has not been pressed by any of them, nor 
has there been any money payment in con- 
nection with them. 

Edward L. Gardner. 

I may add as a footnote to Mr. Gardner's 
report that the girl informed him in con- 
versation that she had no power of any sort 
over the actions of the fairies, and that the 
way to *' 'tice them," as she called it, was 
to sit passively with her mind quietly turned 
in that direction ; then, when faint stirrings 
or movements in the distance heralded their 
presence, to beckon towards them and show 
that they were welcome. It was Iris who 
pointed out the pipes of the gnome, which 
we had both taken as being the markings of 


the moth-like under-wing. She added that 
if there was not too much rustling in the 
wood it was possible to hear the very faint 
and high sound of the pipes. To the ob- 
jections of jphotographers that the fairy 
figures show quite different shadows to those 
of the human our answer is that ectoplasm, 
as the etheric protoplasm has been named, 
has a faint luminosity of its own, which 
would largely modify shadows. 

To the very clear and, as I think, entirely 
convincing report of Mr. Gardner's, let me 
add the exact words which Mr. Snelling, the 
expert photographer, allows us to use. Mr. 
Snelling has shown great strength of mind, 
and rendered signal service to psychic study, 
by taking a strong line, and putting his pro- 
fessional reputation as an expert upon the 
scales. He has had a varied connection of 
over thirty years with the Autotjrpe Com- 
pany and lUingworth's large photographic 
factory, and has himself turned out some 
beautiful work of every kind of natural and 
artificial studio studies. He laughs at the 
idea that any expert in England could de- 
ceive him with a faked photograph. * ^ These 



two negatives," he says, **are entirely genu- 
ine, unfaked photographs of single expo- 
sure, open-air work, show movement in the 
fairy figures, and there is no trace whatever 
of studio work involving card or paper mod- 
els, dark backgrounds, painted figures, etc. 
In my opinion, they are both straight un- 
touched pictures." 

A second independent opinion is equally 
clear as to the genuine character of the 
photographs, founded upon a large experi- 
ence of practical photography. 

There is our case, fortified by pictures of 
the places which the unhappy critic has de- 
clared to be theatrical properties. How well 
we know that type of critic in all our psychic 
Iwork, though it is not always possible to at 
once show his absurdity to other people. 

I will now make a few comments upon the 
two pictures, which I have studied long and 
earnestly with a high-power lens. 

One fact of interest is this presence of a 
double pipe — the very sort which the an- 
cients associated with fauns and naiads — in 
each picture. But if pipes, why not every- 
thing else ? Does it not suggest a complete 


range of utensils and instruments for their 
own life? Their clothing is substantial 
enough. It seems to me that. with fuller 
knowledge and with fresh means of vision 
these people are destined to become just as 
solid and real as the Eskimos. There is an 
ornamental rim to the pipe of the elves which 
shows that the graces of art are not unknown 
among them. And what joy is in the com- 
plete abandon of their little graceful figures 
as they let themselves go in the dance ! They 
may have their shadows and trials as we 
have, but at least there is a great gladness 
manifest in this demonstration of their life. 
A second general observation is that the 
elves are a compound of the human and the 
butterfly, while the gnome has more of the 
moth. This may be merely the result of 
under-exposure of the negative and dullness 
of the weather. Perhaps the little gnome 
is really of the same tribe, but represents an 
elderly male, while the elves are romping 
young women. Most observers of fairy life 
have reported, however, that there are sep- 
arate species, varying very much in size, ap- 



pearance, and locality — the wood fairy, the 
water fairy, the fairy of the plains, etc. 

Can these be thought-forms? The fact 
that they are so like our conventional idea 
of fairies is in favour of the idea. But if 
they move rapidly, have musical instru- 
ments, and so forth, then it is impossible to 
talk of ''thought- forms," a term which sug- 
gests something vague and intangible. In 
a sense we are all thought-forms, since we 
can only be perceived through the senses, 
but these little figures would seem to have 
an objective reality, as we have ourselves, 
even if their vibrations should prove to be 
such that it takes either psychic power or a 
sensitive plate to record them. If they are 
conventional it may be that fairies have 
really been seen in every generation, and 
so some correct description of them has been 

There is one point of Mr. Gardner's in- 
vestigation which should be mentioned. It 
had come to our knowledge that Iris could 
draw, and had actually at one time done 
some designs for a jeweller. This naturally 
demanded caution, though the girl's own 


frank nature is, I understand, a sufficient 
guarantee for those who know her. Mr. 
Gardner, however, tested her powers of 
drawing, and found that, while she could 
do landscapes cleverly, the fairy figures 
which she had attempted in imitation of 
those she had seen were entirely uninspired, 
and bore no possible resemblance to those in 
the photograph. Another point which may 
be commended to the careful critic with 
a strong lens is that the apparent pencilled 
face at the side of the figure on the right 
is really only the edge of her hair, and not, 
as might appear, a drawn profile. 

I must confess that after months of 
thought I am unable to get the true bear- 
ings of this event. One or two consequences 
are obvious. The experiences of children 
will be taken more seriously. Cameras will 
be forthcoming. Other well-authenticated 
cases will come along. These little folk who 
appear to be our neighbours, with only some 
small difference of vibration to separate us, 
will become familiar. The thought of them, 
even when unseen, will add a charm to every 
brook and valley and give romantic interest 



to every country walk. The recognition of 
their existence will jolt the material twen- 
tieth-century mind out of its heavy ruts 
in the mud, and will make it admit that 
there is a glamour and a mystery to life. 
Having discovered this, the world will not 
find it so difficult to accept that spiritual 
message supported by physical facts which 
has already been so convincingly put before 
it. All this I see, but there may be much 
more. When Columbus knelt in prayer upon 
the edge of America, what prophetic eye 
saw all that a new continent might do to 
affect the destinies of the world? We also 
seem to be on the edge of a new continent, 
separated not by oceans but by subtle and 
surmountable psychic conditions. I look at 
the prospect with awe. May those little crea- 
tures suffer from the contact and some Las 
Casas bewail their ruin ! If so, it would be 
an evil day when the world defined their 
existence. But there is a guiding hand in 
the affairs of man, and we can but trust and 




Though I was out of England at the time, 
I was able, even in Australia, to realize that 
the appearance of the first photographs in 
the Strand Magazine had caused very great 
interest. The press comments were as a rule 
cautious but not unsympathetic. The old 
cry of "Fake!" was less conspicuous than 
I had expected, but for some years the press 
has been slowly widening its views upon 
psychic matters, and is not so inclined as 
of old to attribute every new manifestation 
to fraud. Some of the Yorkshire papers 
had made elaborate inquiries, and I am told 
that photographers for a considerable radius 
from the house were cross-questioned to find 
if they were accomplices. Truth, which is 
obsessed by the idea that the whole spiritual- 
istic movement and everything connected 



with it is one huge, senseless conspiracy to 
deceive, concocted by knaves and accepted 
by fools, bad the usual contemptuous and 
contemptible articles, which ended by a 
prayer to Elsie that she should finish her 
fun and let the public know how it really 
was done. The best of the critical attacks 
was in the Westminster Gazette, who sent a 
special commissioner to unravel the mystery, 
and published the result on January 12, 
1921. By kind permission I reproduce the 
article ; 

do faieies exist? 

investigation in a yorkshire valley 

cottingley's mystery 

story of the girl who took the snapshot 

The publication of photographs of fairies 
— or, to be more explicit, one photograph of 
fairies and another of a gnome — playing 
round children has aroused considerable in- 
terest, not only in Yorkshire, where the 
beings are said to exist, but throughout the 


The story, mysterious as it was when first 
told, became even more enigmatical by rea- 
son of the fact that Sir A. Conan Doyle 
made use of fictitious names in his narra- 
tive in the Strand Magazine in order, as he 
says, to prevent the lives of the people con- 
cerned being interrupted by callers and cor- 
respondence. That he has failed to do. I 
am afraid Sir Conan does not know York- 
shire people, particularly those of the dales, 
because any attempt to hide identity imme- 
diately arouses their suspicions, if it does 
not go so far as to condemn the writer for 
his lack of frankness. 

It is not surprising, therefore, that his 
story is accepted with reserve. Each per- 
son to whom I spoke of the subject during 
my brief sojourn in Yorkshire dismissed the 
matter curtly as being untrue. It has been 
the principal topic of conversation for 
weeks, mainly because identity had been dis- 

My mission to Yorkshire was to secure 
evidence, if possible, which would prove or 
disprove the claim that fairies existed. I 
frankly confess that I failed. 



The particular fairyland is a picturesque 
little spot off the beaten track, two or three 
miles from Bingley. Here is a small village 
called Cottingley, almost hidden in a break 
in the upland, through which tumbles a tiny 
stream, known as Cottingley Beck, on its 
way to the Aire, less than a mile away. The 
** heroine" of Sir Conan Doyle's story is 
Miss Elsie Wright,^ who resides with her 
parents at 31 Lynwood Terrace. The little 
stream runs past the back of the house, and 
the photographs were taken not more than 
a hundred yards away. When Miss Wright 
made the acquaintance of the fairies she was 
accompanied by her cousin, Frances Grif- 
fiths, who resides at Dean Road, Scarbor- 

One photograph, taken by Miss Wright in 
the summer of 1917, when she was sixteen, 
shows her cousin, then a child of ten, with a 
group of four fairies dancing in the air be- 
fore her, and in the other, taken some 
months afterwards, Elsie, seated on the 

' From this time onwards the real name Wright is used in- 
stead of Carpenter as in the original article — the family hav- 
ing withdrawn their objection. 



grass, has a quaint gnome dancing beside 

There are certain facts which stand out 
clearly and which none of the evidence I 
was able to obtain could shake. No other 
people have seen the fairies, though every- 
body in the little village knew of their 
alleged existence ; when Elsie took the photo- 
graph she was unacquainted with the use 
of a camera, and succeeded at the first at- 
tempt; the girls did not invite a third per- 
son to see the wonderful visitors, and no 
attempt was made to make the discovery 

First I interviewed Mrs. Wright, who, 
without hesitation, narrated the whole of the 
circumstances without adding any comment. 
The girls, she said, would spend the whole 
of the day in the narrow valley, even taking 
their lunch with them, though they were 
within a stone's throw of the house. Elsie 
was not robust, and did not work during the 
summer months, so that she could derive as 
much benefit as possible from playing in the 
open. She had often talked about seeing 
the fairies, but her parents considered it was 



nothing more than childish fancy, and let it 
pass. Mr. Wright came into possession of a 
small camera in 1917, and one Saturday 
afternoon yielded to the persistent entreat- 
ies of his daughter and allowed her to take 
it out. He placed one plate in position, and 
explained to her how to take a * ' snap. ' ' The 
children went away in high glee and re- 
turned in less than an hour, requesting Mr. 
Wright to develop the plate. While this 
was being done Elsie noticed that the fairies 
were beginning to show, and exclaimed in 
an excited tone to her cousin, *'0h, Frances, 
the fairies are on the plate!" The second 
photograph was equally successful, and a 
few prints from each plate were given to 
friends as curiosities about a year ago. They 
evidently attracted little notice until one was 
shown to some of the delegates at a Theo- 
sophical Congress in Harrogate last sum- 

Mrs. Wright certainly gave me the im- 
pression that she had no desire to keep any- 
thing back, and answered my questions 
quite frankly. She told me that Elsie had 
always been a truthful girl, and there were 

Ki.siK si:ati:i) on iiik isank on which rni: i aiimks 
w i:i:i: |)AN(1\(; in I'.HT i riuiio I'.i'ioi 

OF I. AST I'lloroci: MMI 

V. 1H.\.\('I:S AMI 'IIIK l.KAIM \(; lAlUY 

Pliotosiai)h tsikiii liy Elsie in Anyiist, 1!I20. 'Tanieo" caint'ia. Distanre. 
:: I't. Tinie. 1 .'lOtli sec. Tliis negative anil tile two follow iuK ( H anil 1-; t 
have lieen as strietly examined as the eai'lier ones, and siniilaily disilose 
no tl-aee of beins othei- than peifeetly Kenuine photo^'iaphs. Also they 
proved to have been taken fioni the itaeket Kiven them, eaeh jilate having 
heen iJiivately marked unknown to the Kills. 


neighbours who accepted the story of the 
fairies simply on the strength of their 
knowledge of her. I asked about Elsie's ca- 
reer, and her mother said that after she left 
school she worked a few months for a pho- 
tographer in Manningham Lane, Bradford, 
but did not care for running errands most 
of the day. The only other work she did 
there was "spotting." N.either occupation 
was likely to teach a fourteen-year-old girl 
how to * ' fake ' ' a plate. From there she went 
to a jeweller's shop, but her stay there was 
not prolonged. For many months immedi- 
ately prior to taking the first photograph 
she was at home and did not associate with 
anyone who possessed a camera. 

At that time her father knew little of pho- 
tography, "only what he had picked up by 
dodging about with the camera," as he put 
it, and any suggestion that he had faked the 
plate must be dismissed. 

When he came home from the neighbour- 
ing mill, and was told the nature of my 
errand, he said he was "fed up" with the 
whole business, and had nothing else to tell. 
However, he detailed the story I had already 



heard from his wife, agreeing in every par- 
ticular, and Elsie's account, given to me in 
Bradford, added nothing. Thus I had the 
information from the three members of the 
family at different times, and without varia- 
tion. The parents confessed they had some 
difficulty in accepting the photographs as 
genuine and even questioned the girls as to 
how they faked them. The children per- 
sisted in their story, and denied any act of 
dishonesty. Then they *'let it go at that." 
Even now their belief in the existence of the 
fairies is merely an acceptance of the state- 
ments of their daughter and her cousin. 

I ascertained that Elsie was described by 
her late schoolmaster as being ** dreamy," 
and her mother said that anything imagina- 
tive appealed to her. As to whether she 
could have drawn the fairies when she was 
sixteen I am doubtful. Lately she has taken 
up water-colour drawing, and her work, 
which I carefully examined, does not reveal 
that ability in a marked degree, though she 
possesses a remarkable knowledge of colour 
for an untrained artist. 

Sir A. Conan Doyle says that at first he 


was not convinced that the fairies were not 
thought-forms conjured up by the imagina- 
tion or expectation of the seers. Mr. E. L. 
Gardner, a member of the Executive Com- 
mittee of the Theosophical Society, who 
made an investigation on the spot and also 
interviewed all the members of the family, 
records his opinion that the photographs 
are genuine. 

Later in the day I went to Bradford, and 
at Sharpe's Christmas Card Manufactory 
saw Miss Wright. She was working in an 
upper room, and at first refused to see me, 
sending a message to the effect that she did 
not desire to be interviewed. A second re- 
quest was successful, and she appeared at a 
small counter at the entrance to the works. 

She is a tall, slim girl, with a wealth of 
auburn hair, through which a narrow gold 
band, circling her head, was entwined. 

Like her parents, she just said she had 
nothing to say about the photographs, and, 
singularly enough, used the same expres- 
sion as her father and mother — "I am ^fed 
up' with the thing." 

She gradually became communicative, and 



told me how she came to take the first pho- 

Asked where the fairies came from, she 
replied that she did not know. 

**Did you see them come?" I asked; and 
on receiving an affirmative reply, suggested 
that she must have noticed where they came 

Miss Wright hesitated, and laughingly 
answered, "I can't say." She was equally 
at a loss to explain where they went after 
dancing near her, and was embarrassed 
when I pressed for a fuller explanation. 
Two or three questions went unanswered, 
and my suggestion that they must have 
"simply vanished into the air" drew the 
monosyllabic reply, "Yes." They did not 
speak to her, she said, nor did she speak to 

When she had been with her cousin she 
had often seen them before. They were only 
kiddies when they first saw them, she re- 
marked, and did not tell anybody. 

"But," I went on, "it is natural to expect 
that a child, seeing fairies for the first time, 
would tell its mother." Her answer was to 


repeat that she did not tell anybody. The 
first occasion on which fairies were seen, it 
transpired, was in 1915. 

In reply to further questions. Miss 
Wright said she had seen them since, and 
had photographed them, and the plates were 
in the possession of Mr. Gardner. Even 
after several prints of the first lot of fairies 
had been given to friends, she did not inform 
anybody that she had seen them again. The 
fact that nobody else in the village had seen 
them gave her no surprise. She firmly be- 
lieved that she and her cousin were the only 
persons who had been so fortunate, and was 
equally convinced that nobody else woidd 
be. *'If anybody else were there,'* she said, 
**the fairies would not come out.'' 

Further questions put with the object of 
eliciting a reason for that statement were 
only answered with smiles and a final sig- 
nificant remark, *'You don't understand." 

Miss Wright still believes in the existence 
of the fairies, and is looking forward to see- 
ing them again in the coming summer. 

The fairies of Cottingley, as they ap- 
peared to the two girls, are fine-weather 



elves, as Miss Wright said they appeared 
only when it was bright and sunny; never 
when the weather was dull or wet. 

The strangest part of the girPs story was 
her statement that in their more recent ap- 
pearances the fairies were more ''trans- 
parent" than in 1916 and 1917, when they 
were "rather hard." Then she added the 
qualification, "You see, we were young 
then." This she did not amplify, though 
pressed to do so. 

The hitherto obscure village promises to 
be the scene of many pilgrimages during the 
coming summer. There is an old saying in 
Yorkshire: "Ah '11 believe what Ah see," 
which is still maintained as a valuable 

The general tone of this article makes it 
clear that the Commissioner would very 
naturally have been well pleased to effect a 
coup by showing up the whole concern. He 
was, however, a fair-minded and intelligent 
man, and has easily exchanged the role of 
Counsel for the Prosecution to that of a 
tolerant judge. It will be observed that he 


brought out no new fact which had not al- 
ready appeared in my article, save the inter- 
esting point that this was absolutely the 
first photograph which the children had 
ever taken in their lives. Is it conceivable 
that under such circumstances they could 
have produced a picture which was fraudu- 
lent and yet defied the examination of so 
many experts ? Granting the honesty of the 
father, which no one has ever impugned, 
Elsie could only have done it by cut-out 
images, which must have been of exquisite 
beauty, of many different models, fashioned 
and kept without the knowledge of her 
parents, and capable of giving the impres- 
sion of motion when carefully examined by 
an expert. Surely this is a large order! 

In the Westminster article it is clear that 
the writer has not had much acquaintance 
with psychic research. His surprise that a 
young girl should not know whence appear- 
ances come or whither they go, when they 
are psychic forms materializing in her own 
peculiar aura, does not seem reasonable. It 
is a familiar fact also that psychic phe- 
nomena are always more active in warm 



sunny weather than in damp or cold. 
Finally, the girl's remark that the shapes 
were getting more diaphanous was a very 
suggestive one, for it is with childhood that 
certain forms of mediumship are associated, 
and there is always the tendency that, as the 
child becomes the woman, and as the mind 
becomes more sophisticated and common- 
place, the phase will pass. The refining 
process can be observed in the second series 
of pictures, especially in the little figure 
which is holding out the flower. We fear 
that it has now completed itself, and that we 
shall have no more demonstrations of fairy 
life from this particular source. 

One line of attack upon the genuine char- 
acter of the photographs was the production 
of a fake, and the argument: "There, you 
see how good that is, and yet it is an ad- 
mitted fake. How can you be sure that 
yours are not so also?" The fallacy of this 
reasoning lay in the fact that these imita- 
tions were done by skilled performers, while 
the originals were by untrained children. It 
is a repetition of the stale and rotten argu- 
ment by which the world has been befooled 



SO long, that because a conjurer under Ms 
own conditions can imitate certain effects, 
therefore the effects themselves never ex- 

It must be admitted that some of these at- 
tempts were very well done, though none of 
them passed the scrutiny of Mr. Gardner 
or myself. The best of them was by a lady 
photographer connected with the Bradford 
Institute, Miss Ina Inman, whose produc- 
tion was so good that it caused us for some 
weeks to regard it with an open mind. 
There was also a weird but effective ar- 
rangement by Judge Docker, of Australia. 
In the case of Miss Inman 's elves, clever as 
they were, there was nothing of the natural 
grace and freedom of movement which char- 
acterize the wonderful Cottingley fairy 

Among the more remarkable comments in 
the press was one from Mr. George A. Wade 
in the London Evening Netus of December 
8, 1920. It told of a curious sequence of 
events in Yorkshire, and ran as follows : 

**Are there real fairies in the land to-day? 



The question has been raised by Sir Arthur 
Conan Doyle, and there have been sub- 
mitted photographs which purport to be 
those of actual 'little people.' 

*' Experiences which have come within my 
own knowledge may help to throw a little 
light on this question as to whether there are 
real fairies, actual elves and gnomes, yet to 
be met with in the dales of Yorkshire, where 
the photographs are asserted to have been 

** Whilst spending a day last year with my 
friend, Mr. Halliwell Sutcliffe, the well- 
known novelist, who lives in that district, he 
told me, to my intense surprise, that he per- 
sonally knew a schoolmaster not far from 
his home who had again and again insisted 
that he had seen, talked with, and had played 
with real fairies in some meadows not far 
away ! The novelist mentioned this to me as 
an actual curious fact, for which he, him- 
self, had no explanation. But he said that 
the man was one whose education, person- 
ality, and character made him worthy of 
credence — a man not likely to harbour a de- 
lusion or to wish to deceive others. 


"Whilst in the same district I was in- 
formed by a man whom I knew to be thor- 
oughly reliable that a young lady living in 
Skipton had mentioned to him more than 

once that she often went up to (a spot 

in the dales the name of which he gave) to 
*play and dance with the fairies !' When he 
expressed astonishment at the statement she 
repeated it, and averred that it was really 

"In chatting about the matter with my 
friend, Mr. William Riley, the author of 
Windyridge, NetherleigJi, and Jerry and 
Ben, a writer who knows the Yorkshire 
moors and dales intimately, Mr. Riley as- 
serted that though he had never seen actual 
fairies there, yet he knew several trust- 
worthy moorland people whose belief in 
them was unshakable and who persisted 
against all contradiction that they them- 
selves had many times seen pixies at cer- 
tain favoured spots in Upper Airedale and 

"When some time later an article of mine 
anent these things was published in a York- 
shire newspaper, there came a letter from a 



lady at a distance who stated that the ac- 
count confirmed a strange experience which 
she had when on holiday in the same dale up 
above Skipton. 

' ' She stated that one evening, when walk- 
ing alone on the higher portion of a slope of 
the hills, to her intense astonishment she 
saw in a meadow close below her fairies and 
sprites playing and dancing in large num- 
bers. She imagined that she must be dream- 
ing, or under some hallucination, so she 
pinched herself and rubbed her eyes to make 
sure that she was really awake. Convinced 
of this, she looked again, and still unmis- 
takably saw the 'little people.' She gave a 
full account of how they played, of the long 
time she watched them, and how at length 
they vanished. Without a doubt she was 
convinced of the truth of her statement. 

"What can we make of it all? My own 
mind is open, but it is difficult to believe that 
so many persons, unknown to one another, 
should have conspired to state what is false. 
It is a remarkable coincidence, if nothing 
more, that the girls in Sir Arthur Conan 
Doyle's account, the schoolmaster mentioned 


by Mr. Sutcliffe, the young woman who 
came from Skipton, and the lady who wrote 
to the Yorkshire newspaper should all put 
the spot where the fairies are to be seen 
almost within a mile or two of one another. 
''Are there real fairies to be met with 
there r' 

The most severe attack upon the fairy 
pictures seems to have been that of Major 
Hall-Edwards, the famous authority upon 
radimn, in the Birmingham Weekly/ Post. 
He said: 

"Sir Arthur Conan Doyle takes it for 
granted that these photographs are real pho- 
tographs of fairies, notwithstanding the fact 
that no evidence has so far been put forward 
to show exactly how they were produced. 
Anyone who has studied the extraordinary 
effects which have from time to time been 
obtained by cinema operators must be aware 
that it is possible, given time and opportu- 
nity, to produce by means of faked photo- 
graphs almost anything that can be imag- 



"It is well to point out that the elder of 
the two girls has been described by her 
mother as a most imaginative child, who has 
been in the habit of drawing fairies for 
years, and who for a time was apprenticed 
to a firm of photographers. In addition to 
this she has access to some of the most beau- 
tiful dales and valleys, where the imagina- 
tion of a young person is easily quickened. 

''One of the pictures represents the 
younger child leaning on her elbow upon a 
bank, while a number of fairies are shown 
dancing around her. The child does not 
look at the fairies, but is posing for the pho- 
tograph in the ordinary way. The reason 
given for her apparent disinterestedness in 
the frolicsome elves is that she is used to the 
fairies, and was merely interested in the 

**The picture in question could be 'faked' 
in two ways. Either the little figures of the 
fairies were stuck upon a cardboard, cut out 
and placed close to the sitter, when, of 
course, she would not be able to see them, 
and the whole photograph produced on a 
marked plate; or the original photograph, 


without 'fairies,' may have had stuck on it 
the figures of fairies cut from some publica- 
tion. This would then be rephotographed, 
and, if well done, no photographer could 
swear that the second negative was not the 
original one. 

** Major Hall-Edwards went on to remark 
that great weight had been placed upon the 
fact that the fairies in the photograph had 
transparent wings, but that a tricky pho- 
tographer could very easily reproduce such 
an effect. 

'' *It is quite possible,' he observed, Ho 
cut off the transparent wings of insects and 
paste them on a picture of fairies. It is easy 
to add the transparent wings of large flies 
and so arrange them that portions of the 
photograph can be viewed through the 
wings and thus obtain a very realistic 
effect. ' 

*'It has been pointed out that although 
the * fairies' are represented as if they were 
dancing — in fact they are definitely stated 
to be dancing — there is no evidence of move- 
ment in the photographs. An explanation 
of this has been given by the photographer 



herself, who has told us that the movements 
of the fairies are exceedingly slow and 
might be compared to the retarded-move- 
ment films shown in the cinemas. This 
proves that the young lady i^ossesses a very 
considerable knowledge of photography. 

"Millions of photographs have been 
taken by operators of different ages — chil- 
dren and grown-ups — of country scenes and 
places which, we have been taught, are the 
habitats of nymphs and elves ; yet until the 
arrival upon the scene of these two won- 
derful children the image of a fairy has 
never been produced on a photographic 
plate. On the evidence I have no hesitation 
in saying that these photographs could have 
been 'faked.' I criticize the attitude of 
those who declared there is something super- 
natural in the circumstances attending the 
taking of these pictures because, as a medi- 
cal man, I believe that the inculcation of 
such absurd ideas into the minds of children 
will result in later life in manifestations of 
nervous disorder and mental disturbances. 
Surely young children can be brought up to 
appreciate the beauties of Nature without 

n. r.viRY OKI roRiNf; posy of iiauk r.i:i.i.s to ki.sie 

The fairy is standing almost still, poised on tlie busli leaves. The wings 
are shot with yellow, and upper part of dress is very pale pink. 




This contains a feature that was (|iiit<' \nikno\\n tci the sirls. The sheath 
or cocoon aiipearins- in the midst ol' the glasses liaii never been seen hy 
tlieni l)el"()re. and they liad no idea wliat it was. l<\iiry lovers and observers 
descrll)e it as a magnetic l)ath. woven very quicl^ly liy tile fairies, and 
used after didl weailier and in the antunin esi)ecially. 


their imagination being filled with exagger- 
ated, if picturesque, nonsense and misplaced 
sentiment. ' ' 

To this Mr. Gardner answered : 

** Major Hall-Edwards says *no evidence 
has been put forward to show how they were 
produced.' The least a would-be critic 
should do is surely to read the report of the 
case. Sir A. Conan Doyle is asserted to have 
taken it 'for granted that these photographs 
are real and genuine.' It would be difficult 
to misrepresent the case more completely. 
The negatives and contact prints were sub- 
mitted to the most searching tests known to 
photographic science by experts, many of 
whom were frankly sceptical. They emerged 
as being unquestionably single-exposure 
plates and, further, as bearing no evidence 
whatever in themselves of any trace of the 
innumerable faking devices known. This 
did not clear them entirely, for, as I have 
always remarked in my description of the 
investigation, it is held possible by employ- 
ing highly artistic and skilled processes to 
produce similar negatives. Personally, I 



should very mucli like to see this attempted 
seriously. The few that have been done, 
though very much better than the crude ex- 
amples Major Hall-Edwards submits, break 
down hopelessly on simple analysis. 

' ' The case resolved itself at an early stage 
into the examination of the personal element 
and the motive for faked work. It was this 
that occupied us so strenuously, for we fully 
realized the imperative need of overwhelm- 
ingly satisfying proof of personal integrity 
before accepting the photographs as genu- 
ine. This was carried through, and its thor- 
oughness may be estimated by the fact that, 
notwithstanding the searching nature of the 
investigation that has followed the publica- 
tion of the village, names, etc., nothing even 
modifies my first report. I need hardly point 
out that the strength of the case lies in its 
amazing simplicity and the integrity of the 
family concerned. It is on the photographic 
plus the personal evidence that the case 

*^Into part of the criticism advanced by 
Major Hall-Edwards it will be kinder, per- 
haps, not to enter. Seriously to suggest that 


a visit to a cinema show and the use of an 
apt illustration implies *a very considerable 
knowledge of i)hotography' is on a par with 
the supposition that to be employed as an 
errand girl and help in a shop indicates a 
high degree of skill in that profession ! We 
are not quite so credulous as that, nor were 
we able to believe that two children, alone 
and unaided, could produce in half an hour 
a faked photograph of the type of 'Alice and 
the Fairies.' " 

In addition to this criticism by Major 
Hall-Edwards there came an attack in John 
o* London from the distinguished writer 
Mr. Maurice Hewlett, who raises some ob- 
jections which were answered in Mr. Gard- 
ner's subsequent reply. Mr. Hewlett's con- 
tention was as follows: 

*'The stage which Sir A. Conan Doyle 
has reached at present is one of belief in 
the genuineness of what one may call the 
Carpenter photographs, which showed the 
other day to the readers of the Strand 
Magazine two ordinary girls in familiar in- 



tercourse with winged beings, as near as I 
can judge, about eighteen inches high. If he 
believes in the photographs two inferences 
can be made, so to speak, to stand up : one, 
that he must believe also in the existence of 
the beings; two, that a mechanical opera- 
tion, where human agency has done nothing 
but prepare a plate, focus an object, press a 
button, and print a picture, has rendered 
visible something which is not otherwise 
visible to the common naked eye. That is 
really all Sir Arthur has to tell us. He be- 
lieves the photographs to be genuine. The 
rest follows. But why does he believe it? 
Because the young ladies tell him that they 
are genuine. Alas! 

**Sir Arthur cannot, he tells us, go into 
Yorkshire himself to cross-examine the 
young ladies, even if he wishes to cross- 
examine them, which does not appear. How- 
ever, he sends in his place a friend, Mr. E. L. 
Gardner, also of hospitable mind, with set- 
tled opinions upon theosophy and kindred 
subjects, but deficient, it would seem, in 
logical faculty. Mr. Gardner has himself 
photographed in the place where the young 


ladies photographed each other, or there- 
abouts. No winged beings circled about him, 
and one wonders why Mr. Gardner (a) was 
photographed, (h) reproduced the photo- 
graph in the Strand Magazine. 

' ' The only answer I can find is suggested 
to me by the appearance of the Virgin and 
Child to certain shepherds in a peach-or- 
chard at Verona. The shepherds told their 
parish priest that the Virgin Mary had in- 
deed appeared to them on a moonlit night, 
had accepted a bowl of milk from them, had 
then picked a peach from one of the trees 
and eaten it. The priest visited the spot in 
their company, and in due course picked up 
a peach-stone. That settled it. Obviously 
the Madonna had been really there, for here 
was the peach-stone to prove it. 

**I am driven to the conclusion that Mr. 
Gardner had himself photographed on a 
particular spot in order to prove the genu- 
ineness of former photographs taken there. 
The argument would run : The photographs 
were taken on a certain spot; but I have 
been myself photographed on that spot; 
therefore the photographs were genuine. 



There is a fallacy lurking, but it is a hos- 
pitable fallacy; and luckily it doesn't very 
much matter. 

*'The line to take about a question of the 
sort is undoubtedly that of least resistance. 
Which is the harder of belief, the faking of 
a photograph or the objective existence of 
winged beings eighteen inches high? Un- 
doubtedly, to a plain man, the latter; but 
assume the former. If such beings exist, if 
they are occasionally visible, and if a camera 
is capable of revealing to all the world what 
is hidden from most people in it, we are not 
yet able to say that the Carpenter photo- 
graphs are photograj^hs of such beings. 
For we, observe, have not seen such beings. 
True: but we have all seen photographs of 
beings in rapid motion — horses racing, 
greyhounds coursing a hare, men running 
over a field, and so on. We have seen pic- 
tures of these things, and we have seen pho- 
tographs of them ; and the odd thing is that 
never, never by any chance does the photo- 
grai3h of a running object in the least re- 
semble a picture of it. 

**The horse, dog, or man, in fact, in the 


photograph does not look to be in motion at 
all. And rightly so, because in the instant 
of being photographed it was not in motion. 
So infinitely rapid is the action of light on 
the plate that it is possible to isolate a frac- 
tion of time in a rapid flight and to record it. 
Directly you combine a series of photo- 
graphs in sequence, and set them moving, 
you have a semblance of motion exactly like 
that which you have in a picture. 

**Now, the beings circling round a girl's 
head and shoulders in the Carpenter photo- 
graph are in picture flighty and not in pho- 
tographic flight. That is certain. They are 
in the approved pictorial, or plastic, con- 
vention of dancing. They are not well ren- 
dered by any means. They are stiff com- 
pared with, let us say, the whirling gnomes 
on the outside wrapper of Punch. They 
have very little of the wild, irresponsible 
vagary of a butterfly. But they are an at- 
tempt to render an aerial dance — pretty 
enough in a small way. The photographs 
are too small to enable me to decide whether 
they are painted on cardboard or modelled 
in the round ; hut the figures are not moving. 



*'One other point, which may be called a 
small one — but in a matter of the sort no 
point is a small one. I regard it as a cer- 
tainty, as the other plainly is. If the 
dancing figures had been dancing beings, 
really there, the child in the photograph 
would have been looking at them, not at the 
camera. I know children. 

*'And knowing children, and knowing 
that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has legs, I de- 
cide that the Miss Carpenters have pulled 
one of them. Meantime I suggest to him 
that epochs are born, not made." 

To which Mr. Gardner replied in the fol- 
lowing issue : 

*'I could have wished that Mr. Maurice 
Hewlett 's somewhat playful criticism of the 
genuineness of the photographs of fairies 
appearing in the Strand Magazine Christ- 
mas number had been more clearly defined. 
The only serious point raised is the differ- 
ence between photographic and pictorial 
representation of motion — Mr. Hewlett 
maintaining that the latter is in evidence 
in the photographs. 


** With regard to the separate photographs 
of the sites, surely the reason for their in- 
clusion is obvious. Photographic experts 
had stated that though the two negatives re- 
vealed no trace of any faking process (such 
as double exposure, painted figures on en- 
largements rephotographed, set-up models 
in card or other material) , still it could not 
be held to be impossible to obtain the same 
class of result by very clever studio work. 
Also, certain points that needed elucidation 
were the haze above and at the side of the 
child's head, and the blurred appearance of 
the waterfall as compared with the clarity of 
the figures, etc. An inspection of the spots 
and photographs of their surroundings was 
surely the only way to clear up some of 
these. As a matter of fact, the waterfall 
proved to be about twenty feet behind the 
child, and hence out of focus, and some large 
rocks at the same distance in the rear, at 
the side of the fall, were found to be the 
cause of the haziness. The separate photo- 
graphs, of which only one is published of 
each place, confirm entirely the genuineness 



of the sites — not the genuineness of the 

''In commenting on the photography of a 
moving object, Mr. Hewlett makes the as- 
tonishing statement that at the instant of 
being photographed it is not in motion 
(Mr. H. 's italics) . I wonder when it is, and 
what would happen if a camera was ex- 
posed then! Of course the moving object is 
in motion during exposure, no matter 
whether the time be a fiftieth or a millionth 
part of a second, though Mr. Hewlett is by 
no means the only one to fall into this error. 
And each of the fairy figures in the negative 
discloses signs of movement. This was one 
of the first points determined. 

''I admit at once, of course, that this does 
not meet the criticism that the fairies dis- 
play much more grace in action than is to 
be found in the ordinary snapshot of a mov- 
ing horse or man. But if we are here deal- 
ing with fairies whose bodies must be pre- 
sumed to be of a purely ethereal and plastic 
nature, and not with skeleton-framed mam- 
mals at all, is it such a very illogical mind 
that accepts the exquisite grace therein 


found as a natural quality that is never ab- 
sent? In view of the overwhelming evi- 
dence of genuineness now in hand this seems 
to be the truth. 

**With regard to the last query raised — 
the child looking at the camera instead of at 
the fairies — Alice was entirely unsophisti- 
cated respecting the proper photographic 
attitude. For her, cameras were much more 
novel than fairies, and never before had she 
seen one used so close to her. Strange to us 
as it may seem, at the moment it interested 
her the most. Apropos, would a faker, 
clever enough to produce such a photograph, 
commit the elementary blunder of not pos- 
ing his subject?" 

Among other interesting and weighty 
opinions, which were in general agreement 
with our contentions, was one by Mr. H. A. 
Staddon of Goodmayes, a gentleman who 
had made a particular hobby of fakes in pho- 
tography. His report is too long and too 
technical for inclusion, but, under the vari- 
ous headings of composition, dress, develop- 
ment, density, lighting, poise, texture, plate, 
atmosphere, focus, halation, he goes very 



completely into the evidence, coming to the 
final conclusion that when tried by all these 
tests the chances are not less than 80 per 
cent, in favour of authenticity. 

It may be added that in the course of ex- 
hibiting these photographs (in the interests 
of the Theosophical bodies with which Mr. 
Gardner is connected), it has sometimes oc- 
curred that the plates have been enormously 
magnified upon the screen. In one instance, 
at Wakefield, the powerful lantern used 
threw an exceptionally large picture on a 
huge sheet. The operator, a very intelligent 
man who had taken a sceptical attitude, was 
entirely converted to the truth of the photo- 
graphs, for, as he pointed out, such an en- 
largement would show the least trace of a 
scissors irregularity or of any artificial de- 
tail, and would make it absurd to suppose 
that a dummy figure could remain unde- 
tected. The lines were always beautifully 
fine and unbroken. 




When Mr. Gardner was in Yorkshire in 
July, he left a good camera with Elsie, for 
he learned that her cousin Frances was 
about to visit her again and that there would 
be a chance of more photographs. One of 
our difficulties has been that the associated 
aura of the two girls is needful. This join- 
ing of auras to produce a stronger effect 
than either can get singly is common enough 
in psychic matters. We wished to make full 
use of the combined power of the girls in 
August. My last words to Mr. Gardner, 
therefore, before starting for Australia 
were that I should open no letter more 
eagerly than that which would tell me the 
result of our new venture. In my heart I 
hardly expected success, for three years had 
passed, and I was well aware that the proc- 
esses of puberty a^ often fatal to psychic 



I was surprised, therefore, as well as de- 
lighted, when I had his letter at Melbourne, 
informing me of complete success and en- 
closing three more wonderful prints, all 
taken in the fairy glen. Any doubts which 
had remained in my mind as to honesty were 
completely overcome, for it was clear that 
these pictures, specially the one of the fairies 
in the bush, were altogether beyond the pos- 
sibility of fake. Even now, however, hav- 
ing a wide experience of transference of 
l^ictures in psychic photography and the 
effect of thought upon ectoplasmic images, 
I feel that there is a possible alternative ex- 
planation in this direction, and I have never 
quite lost sight of the fact that it is a curious 
coincidence that so unique an event should 
have happened in a family some members of 
which were already inclined to occult study, 
and might be imagined to have formed 
thought-pictures of occult appearances. 
Such suppositions, though not to be entirely 
dismissed, are, as it seems to me, far-fetched 
and remote. 

Here is the joyous letter which reached me 
at Melbourne : 


September 6, 1920. 

My dear Doyle, 

Greetings and best wishes I Your last 
words to me before we parted were that you 
would open my letter with the greatest in- 
terest. You will not be disappointed — for 
the wonderful thing has happened ! 

I have received from Elsie three more 
negatives taken a few days back. I need not 
describe them, for enclosed are the three 
prints in a separate envelope. The '^Flying 
Fairy '^ and the ''Fairies' Bower" are the 
most amazing that any modern eye has ever 
seen surely ! I received these plates on Fri- 
day morning last and have since been think- 
ing furiously. 

A nice little letter came with them saying 
how sorry they were (!) that they couldn't 
send more, but the weather had been bad 
(it has been abominably cold), and on only 
two afternoons had Elsie and Frances been 
able to visit the glen. (Frances has now re- 
turned to Scarborough at the call of school.) 
All quite simple and straightforward and 
concluding with the hope that I might be 



able to spend another day with them at the 
end of this month. 

I went over to Harrow at once, and Snell- 
ing without hesitation pronounced the three 
as bearing the same proofs of genuineness 
as the first two, declaring further that at any 
rate the "bower" one was utterly beyond 
any possibility of faking! While on this 
point I might add that to-day I have inter- 
viewed lUingworth's people and somewhat 
to my surprise they endorsed this view. 
(Now if you have not yet opened the en- 
velope please do so and I will continue . . .) 

I am going to Yorkshire on the 23rd inst. 
to fill some lecture engagements and shall 
spend a day at C, and of course take photos 
of these spots and examine and take away 
any "spoilt" negatives that will serve as 
useful accompaniments. The bower nega- 
tive, by the way, the girls simply could not 
understand at all. They saw the sedate- 
looking fairy to the right, and without wait- 
ing to get in the picture Elsie pushed the 
camera close up to the tall grasses and took 
the snap. . . . 


To this letter I made answer as follows: 


October 21, 1920. 

Deak Gardnee, 

My heart was gladdened when out 
here in far Australia I had your note and 
the three wonderful prints which are con- 
firmatory of our published results. You and 
I needed no confirmation, but the whole line 
of thought will be so novel to the ordinary 
busy man who has not followed psychic in- 
quiry, that he will need that it be repeated 
again and yet again before he realizes that 
this new order of life is really established 
and has to be taken into serious account, just 
as the pigmies of Central Africa. 

I felt guilty when I laid a delay-action 
mine and left the country, leaving you to 
face the consequences of the explosion. 
You knew, however, that it was unavoidable. 
I rejoice now that you should have this com- 
plete shield against those attacks which will 
very likely take the form of a clamour for 
further pictures, unaware that such pictures 
actually exist. 



The matter does not bear directly upon 
the more vital question of our own fate and 
that of those we have lost, which has brought 
me out here. But anything which extends 
man's mental horizon, and proves to him 
that matter as we have known it is not really 
the limit of our universe, must have a good 
effect in breaking down materialism and 
leading human thought to a broader and 
more spiritual level. 

It almost seems to me that those wise en- 
tities who are conducting this campaign 
from the other side, and using some of us as 
humble instruments, have recoiled before 
that sullen stupidity against which Goethe 
said the gods themselves fight in vain, and 
have opened up an entirely new line of ad- 
vance, which will turn that so-called *' reli- 
gious," and essentially irreligious, position, 
which has helped to bar our way. They 
can't destroy fairies by antediluvian texts, 
and when once fairies are admitted other 
psychic phenomena will find a more ready 

Good-bye, my dear Gardner, I am proud 
to have been associated with you in this 


epoch-making incident. We have had con- 
tinued messages at seances for some time 
that a visible sign was coming through — and 
perhaps this was what is meant. The hmnan 
race does not deserve fresh evidence, since 
it has not troubled, as a rule, to examine that 
which already exists. However, our friends 
beyond are very long-suffering and more 
charitable than I, for I will confess that my 
soul is filled with a cold contempt for the 
muddle-headed indifference and the moral 
cowardice which I see around me. 
Yours sincerely, 

Aethur Conan Doyle. 

The next letters from Mr. Gardner told 
me that in September, immediately after 
this second series was taken, he had gone 
north again, and came away more convinced 
than ever of the honesty of the whole Wright 
family and of the genuine nature of the pho- 
tographs. From this letter I take the fol- 
lowing extracts: 

*^My visit to Yorkshire was very profit- 
able. I spent the whole day with the family 



and took photographs of the new sites, 
which proved to be in close proximity to the 
others. I enclose a few prints of these. It 
was beside the pond shown that the 'cradle' 
or bower photograph was taken. The fairy 
that is in the air was leaping rather than 
flying. It had leapt up from the bush below 
five or six times, Elsie said, and seemed to 
hover at the top of its spring. It was 
about the fifth time that it did so that she 
snapped the shutter. Unfortunately, Fran- 
ces thought the fairy was leaping on to her 
face, the action was so vigorous, and tossed 
her head back. The motion can be detected 
in the print. The fairy who is looking at 
Elsie in the other photograph is holding a 
bunch of fairy hare-bells. I thought this 
one had 'bobbed' hair and was altogether 
quite in the fashion, her dress is so up-to- 
date! But Elsie says her hair was close- 
curled, not bobbed. With regard to the 
'cradle' Elsie tells me they both saw the 
fairy on the right and the demure-looking 
sprite on the left, but not the bower. Or 
rather, she says there was only a wreath of 
faint mist in between and she could make 


nothing of it. We have now succeeded in 
bringing this print out splendidly, and as I 
can get certificates from experts giving the 
opinion that this negative could not possibly 
be 'faked' we seem to be on perfectly safe 
ground. The exposure times in each case 
were one-fiftieth of a second, the distance 
about three to four feet, the camera was 
the selected 'Cameo' that I had sent to Elsie, 
and the plates were of those that I had sent 

"The colours of dresses and wings, etc., I 
have complete, but will post these particu- 
lars on when writing at length a little later 
and have the above more fully written 
out." . . . 

November 27, 1920. 

"The photographs: 

"When I was in Yorkshire in September 
investigating the second series, I took pho- 
tos of the spots, of course, and the full ac- 
count of the success. The children only had 
two brief hours or so of decent sunshine 
during the whole of that fortnight they were 
together in August. On the Thursday they 



took two and on the Saturday one. If it had 
been normal weather we might have ob- 
tained a score or more. Possibly, however, 
it is better to go slowly — though I propose 
we take the matter further again in May or 
June. The camera I had sent was the one 
used, and also the plates (which had all been 
marked privately by the Illingworth Co., 
independently of me). The three new fairy 
negatives proved to be of these and can be 
certified so to be by the manager. The 
Cradle or Bower negative is, as I think I 
told you, declared to be utterly unfakeable, 
and I can get statements to this effect. . . ." 

In a subsequent fuller account Mr. Gard- 
ner says : 

**0n Thursday afternoon, August 26, a 
fairly bright and sunny day, fortunately 
(for the unseasonably cold weather experi- 
enced generally could hardly have been 
worse for the task), a number of photo- 
graphs were taken, and again on Saturday, 
August 28. The three reproduced here are 
the most striking and amazing of the num- 
ber. I only wish every reader could see the 


superlatively beautiful enlargements made 
directly from the actual negatives. The ex- 
quisite grace of the flying fairy baffles de- 
scription — all fairies, indeed, seem to be 
super-Pavlovas in miniature. The next, of 
the fairy offering a flower — an ether ic hare- 
bell — to Iris, is a model of gentle and digni- 
fied pose, but it is to the third that I would 
draw special and detailed attention. Never 
before, or otherwhere, surely, has a fairy's 
bower been photographed! 

**The central ethereal cocoon shape, some- 
thing between a cocoon and an open chrysa- 
lis in appearance, lightly sus23ended amid 
the grasses, is the bower or cradle. Seated 
on the upper left-hand edge with wing well 
displayed is an undraped fairy apparently 
considering whether it is time to get up. An 
earlier riser of more mature age is seen on 
the right possessing abundant hair and won- 
derful wings. Her slightly denser body 
can be glimpsed within her fairy dress. 
Just beyond, still on the right, is the clear- 
cut head of a mischievous but smiling elf 
wearing a close-fitting cap. On the extreme 
left is a demure-looking sprite, with a pair 



of very diaphanous wings, while just above, 
rather badly out of focus, however, is an- 
other with wings still widely extended, and 
with outspread arms, apparently just alight- 
ing on the grass tops. The face in half pro- 
file can just be traced in a very clear and 
carefully toned print that I have. Alto- 
gether, perhaps, this of the bower is the 
most astonishing and interesting of the more 
successful photographs, though some may 
prefer the marvellous grace of the flying 

*'The comparative lack of definition in 
this photograph is probably accounted for 
by the absence of the much denser human 
element. To introduce us in this way 
directly to a charming bower of the fairies 
was quite an unexpected result on the part 
of the girls, by the way. They saw the some- 
what sedate fairy on the right in the long 
grasses, and, making no attempt this time to 
get in the picture themselves. Iris put the 
camera very close up and obtained the snap. 
It was simply good fortune that the bower 
was close by. In showing me the negative, 


Iris only remarked it as being a quaint little 
picture that she could not make out!" 

There the matter stands, and nothing has 
occurred from that time onwards to shake 
the validity of the photographs. We were 
naturally desirous of obtaining more, and in 
August 1921 the girls were brought together 
once again, and the very best photographic 
equipment, including a stereoscopic camera 
and a cinema camera, were placed at their 
disposal. The Fates, however, were most 
imkind, and a combination of circumstances 
stood in the way of success. There was 
only a fortnight during which Frances could 
be at Cottingley, and it was a fortnight of 
almost incessant rain, the long drought 
breaking at the end of July in Yorkshire. 
In addition, a small seam of coal had been 
found in the Fairy Glen, and it had been 
greatly polluted by human magnetism. 
These conditions might perhaps have been 
overcome, but the chief impediment of all 
was the change in the girls, the one through 
womanhood and the other through board- 
school education. 



There was one development, however, 
which is worth recording. Although they 
were unable to materialize the images to 
such an extent as to catch them upon a plate, 
the girls had not lost their clairvoyant 
powers, and were able, as of old, to see the 
sprites and elves which still abounded in the 
glen. The sceptic will naturally say that we 
have only their own word for that, but this 
is not so. Mr. Gardner had a friend, whom 
I will call Mr. Sergeant, who held a com- 
mission in the Tank Corps in the war, and is 
an honourable gentleman with neither the 
will to deceive nor any conceivable object in 
doing so. This gentleman has long had the 
enviable gift of clairvoyance in a very high 
degree, and it occurred to Mr. Gardner that 
we might use him as a check upon the state- 
ments of the girls. With great good humour, 
he sacrificed a week of his scanty holiday — 
for he is a hard-worked man — in this curi- 
ous manner. But the results seem to have 
amply repaid him. I have before me his 
reports, which are in the form of notes made 
as he actually watched the phenomena re- 
corded. The weather was, as stated, bad on 


the whole, though clearing occasionally. 
Seated with the girls, he saw all that they 
saw, and more, for his powers proved to be 
considerably greater. Having distinguished 
a psychic object, he would point in the direc- 
tion and ask them for a description, which 
he always obtained correctly within the limit 
of their powers. The whole glen, according 
to his account, was swarming with many 
forms of elemental life, and he saw not only 
wood-elves, gnomes, and goblins, but the 
rarer undines, floating over the stream. I 
take a long extract from his rather disjointed 
notes, which may form a separate chapter. 




Gnomes and Fairies. In the field we saw 
figures about the size of the gnome. They 
were making weird faces and grotesque con- 
tortions at the group. One in particular 
took great delight in knocking his knees to- 
gether. These forms appeared to Elsie 
singly — one dissolving and another appear- 
ing in its place. I, however, saw them in a 
group with one figure more prominently vis- 
ible than the rest. Elsie saw also a gnome 
like the one in the photograph, but not so 
bright and not coloured. I saw a group of 
female figures playing a game, somewhat 
resembling the children's game of oranges 
and lemons. They played in a ring; the 
game resembled the grand chain in the Lan- 
cers. One fairy stood in the centre of the 
ring more or less motionless, while the re- 


mainder, who appeared to be decked with 
flowers and to show colours, not normally 
their own, danced round her. Some joined 
hands and made an archway for the others, 
who moved in and out as in a maze. I no- 
ticed that the result of the game appeared to 
be the forming of a vortex of force which 
streamed upwards to an apparent distance of 
four or five feet above the ground. I also 
noticed that in those parts of the field where 
the grass was thicker and darker, there ap- 
peared to be a correspondingly extra activ- 
ity among the fairy creatures. 

Water Nymph. In the beck itself, near 
the large rock, at a slight fall in the water, 
I saw a water sprite. It was an entirely nude 
female figure with long fair hair, which it 
appeared to be combing or passing through 
its fingers. I was not sure whether it had 
any feet or not. Its form was of a dazzling 
rosy whiteness, and its face very beautiful. 
The arms, which were long and graceful, 
were moved with a wave-like motion. It 
sometimes appeared to be singing, though 
no sound was heard. It was in a kind of 
cave, formed by a projecting piece of rock 



and some moss. Apparently it had no wings, 
and it moved with a sinuous, almost snake- 
like motion, in a semi-horizontal position. Its 
atmosphere and feeling was quite di:fferent 
from that of the fairies. It showed no con- 
sciousness of my presence, and, though I 
waited with the camera in the hope of taking 
it, it did not detach itself from the surround- 
ings in which it was in some way merged. 

Wood Elves. (Under the old beeches in 
the wood, Cottingley, August 12, 1921.) 
Two tiny wood elves came racing over the 
ground past us as we sat on g, fallen tree 
trunk. Seeing us, they pulled up short about 
five feet away, and stood regarding us with 
considerable amusement but no fear. They 
appeared as if completely covered in a tight- 
fitting one-piece skin, which shone slightly 
as if wet. They had hands and feet large 
and out of pro]3ortion to their bodies. Their 
legs were somewhat thin, ears large and 
pointed upwards, being almost pear-shaped. 
There were a large number of these figures 
racing about the ground. Their noses ap- 
peared almost pointed and their mouths 
wide. No teeth and no structure inside the 


mouth, not even a tongue, so far as I could 
see. It was as if the whole were made up 
of a piece of jelly. Surrounding them, as 
an etheric double surrounds a physical form, 
is a greenish light, something like chemi- 
cal vapour. As Prances came up and sat 
within a foot of them they withdrew, as if in 
alarm, a distance of eight feet or so, where 
they remained apparently regarding us and 
comparing notes of their impressions. These 
two live in the roots of a huge beech tree — 
they disappeared through a crevice into 
which they walked (as one might walk into 
a cave) and sank below the ground. 

Water Fairy. (August 14, 1921.) By a 
small waterfall, which threw up a fine spray, 
was seen poised in the spray a diminutive 
fairy form of an exceedingly tenuous nature. 
It appeared to have two main colourings, 
the upper part of its body and aura being 
pale violet, the lower portion pale pink. This 
colouring appeared to penetrate right 
through aura and denser body, the ':'\:tline of 
the latter merging into the former. This 
creature hung poised, its body curved grace- 
fully backwards, its left arm held high above 



its head, as if upheld by the vital force in 
the spray, much as a seagull supports itself 
against the wind. It was as if lying on its 
back in a curved position against the flow of 
the stream. It was human in shape, but did 
not show any characteristics of sex. It re- 
mained motionless in this position for some 
moments, then flashed out of view. I did not 
notice any wings. 

Fairy, Elves, Gnomes, and Broivnie. 
(Sunday, j^^.igust 14, 9 p.m. In the field.) 
Lov^^.y still moonlight evening. The field 
appears to be densely populated with native 
spirits of various kinds — a brownie, fairies, 
elves, and gnomes. 

A Brownie. He is rather taller than the 
normal, say eight inches, dressed entirely in 
brown with facings of a darker shade, bag- 
shaped cap, almost conical, knee breeches, 
stockings, thin ankles, and large pointed feet 
— like gnomes' feet. He stands facing us, 
in no way afraid, perfectly friendly and 
much ir+erested ; he gazes wide-eyed upon us 
with a curious expression as of dawning in- 
tellect. It is as if he were reaching after 
something j ust beyond his mental grasp. He 


looks behind him at a group of fairies who 
are approaching us and moves to one side as 
if to make way. His mental attitude is semi- 
dreamlike, as of a child who would say **I 
can stand and watch this all day without be- 
ing tired." He clearly sees much of our 
auras and is strongly affected by our emana- 

Fairies. Frances sees tiny fairies dancing 
in a circle, the figures gradually expanding 
in size till they reached eighteen inches, the 
ring widening in proportion. Elsie sees a 
vertical circle of dancing fairies flying 
slowly round ; as each one touched the grass 
he appeared to perform a few quick steps 
and then continued his slow motion round 
the circle. The fairies who are dancing have 
long skirts, through which their limbs can 
be seen ; viewed astrally the circle is bathed 
in golden yellow light, with the outer edges 
of many hues, violet predominating. The 
movement of the fairies is reminiscent of 
that of the great wheel at Earl 's Court. The 
fairies float very slowly, remaining motion- 
less as far as bodies and limbs are concerned, 
until they come round to the ground again. 



There is a tinkling music accompanying all 
this. It appears to have more of the aspect 
of a ceremony than a game. Frances sees 
two fairy figures performing as if on the 
stage, one with wings, one without. Their 
bodies shine with the effect of rippling water 
in the sun. The fairy without wings has bent 
over backwards like a contortionist till its 
head touches the ground, while the winged 
figure bends over it. Frances sees a small 
Punch-like figure, with a kind of Welsh hat, 
doing a kind of dancing by striking its heel 
on the ground and at the same time raising 
his hat and bowing. Elsie sees a flower 
fairy, like a carnation in shape, the head ap- 
pearing where the stalk touches the flower 
and the green sepals forming a tunic from 
which the arms protrude, while the petals 
form a skirt, below which are rather thin 
legs. It is tripping across the grass. Its 
colouring is pink like a carnation in a pale, 
suffused sort of way. (Written by the light 
of the moon.) I see couples a foot high, fe- 
male and male, dancing in a slow waltz-like 
motion in the middle of the field. They ap- 
pear even to reverse. They are clothed in 


etheric matter and rather ghost-like in ap- 
pearance. Their bodies are outlined with 
grey light and show little detail. 

Elsie sees a small imp reminiscent of a 
monkey, revolving slowly round a stalk to 
the top of which he was clinging. He has an 
impish face and is looking our way as if per- 
forming for our benefit. 

The brownie appears during all this to 
have taken upon himself the duties of show- 
man. I see what may be described as a fairy 
fountain about twenty feet ahead. It is 
caused by an uprush of fairy force from the 
ground — and spreading fish-tail fashion 
higher into the air — it is many-hued. This 
was also seen by Frances. 

(Monday, August 15. In the field.) I saw 
three figures racing from the field into the 
wood — the same figures previously seen in 
the wood. When about a distance of ten 
yards from the wall they leapt over it into 
the wood and disappeared. Elsie sees in 
centre of field a very beautiful fairy figure, 
somewhat resembling a figure of Mercury, 
without winged sandals, but has fairy wings. 
Nude, light curly hair, kneeling down in a 



dark clump of grass, with its attention fixed 
on something in the ground. It changes its 
position ; first it is sitting back on its heels, 
and then it is rising to its full kneeling 
height. Much larger than usual, probably 
eighteen inches high. It waves its arms over 
some object on the ground. It has picked up 
something from the ground (as I think a 
baby) and holds it to its breast and seems to 
be praying. Has Greek features and re- 
sembles a Greek statue — like a figure out of 
a Greek tragedy. 

(Tuesday, August 16, 10 p.m. In the 
field.) By the light of a small photographic 

Fairies. Elsie sees a circle of fairies trip- 
ping round, hands joined, facing outwards. 
A figure appears in the centre of the ring, 
at the same time the fairies faced inwards. 

Goblins. A group of goblins came run- 
ning towards us from the wood to within fif- 
teen feet of us. They differ somewhat from 
the wood elves, having more the look of 
gnomes, though they are smaller, being about 
the size of small brownies. 

Fairy. Elsie sees a beautiful fairy quite 


near; it is nude, with golden hair, and is 
kneeling in the grass, looking this way with 
hands on knees, smiling at us. It has a very 
beautiful face, and is concentrating its gaze 
on me. This figure came within five feet of 
us, and, after being described, faded away. 

Elf. Elsie sees a kind of elf who seems to 
be going so fast that it blows his hair back ; 
one can sense the wind round him, yet he is 
stationary, though he looks to be busily hur- 
rying along. 

Goblins. Elsie sees a flight of little manni- 
kins, imp-like in appearance, descending 
slantwise on to the grass. They form into 
two lines which cross each other as they come 
down. One line is coming vertically down, 
feet touching head, the other comes across 
them shoulder to shoulder. On reaching the 
ground they all run off in different direc- 
tions, all serious, as if intent upon some busi- 
ness. The elves from the wood appear to 
be chiefly engaged in racing across the field, 
though no other purpose appears to be served 
by their speed or presence. Few of them 
pass near us without pulling up to stare. 
The elves seem to be the most curious of all 



the fairy creatures. Frances sees three and 
calls them goblins. 

Fairy. A blue fairy. A fairy with wings 
and general colouring of sea-blue and pale 
pink. The wings are webbed and marked in 
varying colours like those of a butterfly. 
The form is perfectly modelled and practi- 
cally nude. A golden star shines in the hair. 
The fairy is a director, though not appar- 
ently with any band for the present. 

Fairy Band. There has suddenly arrived 
in the field a fairy director with a band of 
fairy people. Their arrival causes a bright 
radiance to shine in the field, visible to us 
sixty yards away. She is very autocratic 
and definite in her orders, holding unques- 
tioned command. They spread themselves 
out into a gradually widening circle around 
her, and as they do so, a soft glow spreads 
out over the grass. They are actually vivi- 
fying and stimulating the growth in the field. 
This is a moving band which arrives in this 
field swinging high over the tree tops as if 
from a considerable distance. Inside a space 
of two minutes the circle has spread to ap- 
proximately twelve feet wide and is wonder- 


fully radiant with light. Each member of 
the band is connected to the leader by a thin 
stream of light. These streams are of differ- 
ent colour, though chiefly yellow, deepening 
to orange. They meet in the centre, merging 
in her aura, and there is a constant flow back- 
wards and forwards among them. The form 
produced by this is something like an in- 
verted fruit dish, with the central fairy as 
the stem, and the lines of light which flow in 
a graceful even curve forming the sides of 
the bowl. This party is in intense activity, 
as if it had much to do and little time in 
which to do it. The director is vivified and 
instructed from within herself, and appears 
to have her consciousness seated upon a 
more subtle plane th^n that upon which she 
is working. 

Fairy. Elsie sees a tall and stately 
fairy come across the field to a clump of 
harebells. It is carrying in its arms some- 
thing which may be a baby fairy, wrapped 
in gauzy substance. It lays this in the clump 
of harebells and kneels down as though 
stroking something, and after a time fades 
away. We catch impressions of four-footed 



creatures being ridden by winged figures 
who are thin and bend over their mounts 
like jockeys. It is no known animal which 
they bestride, having a face something like 
that of a caterpillar. 

Amongst this fairy activity which appears 
all over the field, one glimpses an occasional 
gnome-like form walking with serious mien 
across the field, whilst the wood elves and 
other imp-like forms run about amongst 
their more seriously employed fairy kind. 
All three of us keep seeing weird creatures 
as of elemental essence. 

Elsie sees about a dozen fairies moving 
towards us in a crescent-shaped flight. As 
they drew near she remarked with ecstasy 
upon their perfect beauty of form — even 
while she did so they became as ugly as sin, 
as if to give the lie to her words. They all 
leered at her and disappeared. In this epi- 
sode it may be that one contacts a phase of 
the antagonism and dislike which so many 
of the fairy creatures feel for humans at 
this stage of evolution. 

Frances saw seven wee fairies quite near 


— weird little figures — lying face down- 

(In the Glen, ISth, 2 p.m.) Frances sees 
a fairy as big as herself, clothed in tights and 
a garment scalloped round the hips; the 
whole is tight-fitting and flesh-coloured ; she 
has very large wings which she opens above 
her head ; then she raises her arms from her 
side up above her head and waves them 
gracefully in the air. She has a very beau- 
tiful face with an expression as if inviting 
Frances into Fairyland. Her hair is ap- 
parently bobbed and her wings are trans- 

Golden Fairy. One specially beautiful one 
has a body clothed in iridescent shimmering 
golden light. She has tall wings, each of 
which is almost divided into upper and lower 
portions. The lower portion, which is small- 
er than the upper, appears to be elongated to 
a point like the wings of certain butterflies. 
She, too, is moving her arms and fluttering 
her wings. I can only describe her as a 
golden wonder. She smiles and clearly sees 
us. She places her finger on her lips. She 
remains watching us with smiling counte- 



nance in ain'""'^st the leaves and branches 
of the willow. She is not objectively visible 
on the physical plane. She points with her 
right hand; moving it in a circle round her 
feet, and I see a number, perhaps six or 
seven, cherubs (winged faces) ; these appear 
to be held in shape by some invisible will. 
She has cast a fairy spell over me completely 
subjugating the mental principle — leaves 
me staring wild-eyed in amongst the leaves 
and flowers. 

An elf -like creature runs up the slanting 
branch of the willow from the ground where 
the fairy stands. He is not a very pleasant 
visitor — I should describe him as distinctly 
low class. 




By a curious coincidence, if it be indeed 
a coincidence, at the moment when the evi- 
dence for the actual existence of fairies was 
brought to my notice, I had just finished an 
article dealing with the subject, in which I 
gave particulars of a number of cases where 
such creatures were said to have been seen, 
and showed how very strong were the rea- 
sons for supposing that some such forms of 
life exist. I now reproduce this article, and 
I add to it another chapter containing fresh 
evidence which reached me after the publi- 
cation of the photographs in the Strand 

We are accustomed to the idea of amphib- 
ious creatures who may dwell unseen and 
unknown in the depths of the waters, and 
then some day be spied sunning themselves 



upon a sandbank, whence they slip into the 
unseen once more. If such appearances 
were rare, and if it should so happen that 
some saw them more clearly than others, then 
a very pretty controversy would arise, for 
the sceptics would say, with every show of 
reason, **Our experience is that only land 
creatures live on the land, and we utterly 
refuse to believe in things which slip in and 
out of the water; if you will demonstrate 
them to us we will begin to consider the 
question.'' Faced by so reasonable an op- 
position, the others could only mutter that 
they had seen them with their own eyes, but 
that they could not command their move- 
ments. The sceptics would hold the field. 

Something of the sort may exist in our 
psychic arrangements. One can well imag- 
ine that there is a dividing line, like the 
water edge, this line depending upon what 
we vaguely call a higher rate of vibrations. 
Taking the vibration theory as a working 
hypothesis, one could conceive that by rais- 
ing or lowering the rate the creatures could 
move from one side to the other of this line 
of material visibility, as the tortoise moves 


from the water to the land, returning for 
refuge to invisibility as the reptile scuttles 
back to the surf. This, of course, is supposi- 
tion, but intelligent supposition based on 
the available evidence is the pioneer of 
science, and it may be that the actual solution 
will be found in this direction. I am allud- 
ing now, not to spirit return, where seventy 
years of close observation has given us some 
sort of certain and definite laws, but rather 
to those fairy and phantom phenomena 
which have been endorsed by so many ages, 
and still even in these material days seem to 
break into some lives in the most unexpected 

Victorian science would have left the 
world hard and clean and bare, like a land- 
scape in the moon; but this science is in 
truth but a little light in the darkness, and 
outside that limited circle of definite knowl- 
edge we see the loom and shadow of gigan- 
tic and fantastic possibilities around us, 
throv^ing themselves continually across our 
consciousness in such ways that it is difficult 
to ignore them. 

There is much curious evidence of vary- 



ing value concerning these borderland 
forms, which come or go either in fact or 
imagination — the latter most frequently, no 
doubt. And yet there remains a residue 
which, by all human standards, should j)oint 
to occasional fact. Lest I should be too dif- 
fuse, I limit myself in this essay to the fair- 
ies, and passing all the age-long tradition, 
which is so universal and consistent, come 
down to some modern instances which make 
one feel that this world is very much more 
complex than we had imagined, and that 
there may be upon its surface some very 
strange neighbours who will open up incon- 
ceivable lines of science for our posterity, 
especially if it should be made easier for 
thetai, by sympathy or other help, to emerge 
from the deep and manifest upon the mar- 

Taking a large number of cases which lie 
before me, there are two points which are 
common to nearly all of them. One is that 
children claim to see these creatures far 
more frequently than adults. This may pos- 
sibly come from greater sensitiveness of ap- 
prehension, or it may depend upon these 


little entities having less fear of molestation 
from tlie children. The other is, that more 
cases are recorded in which they have been 
seen in the still, shimmering hours of a very 
hot day than at any other time. * ' The action 
of the sun upon the brain, ' ' says the sceptic. 
Possibly — and also possibly not. If it were 
a question of raising the slower vibrations 
of our surroundings one could imagine that 
still, silent heat would be the very condition 
which might favour such a change. What 
is the mirage of the desert? What is that 
scene of hills and lakes which a whole cara- 
van can see while it faces in a direction where 
for a thousand miles of desert there is 
neither hill nor lake, nor any cloud or mois- 
ture to produce refraction? I can ask the 
question, but I do not venture to give an 
answer. It is clearly a phenomenon which is 
not to be confused with the erect or often 
inverted image which is seen in a land of 
clouds and of moisture. 

If the confidence of children can be gained 
and they are led to speak freely, it is sur- 
prising how many claim to have seen fairies. 
My younger family consists of two little boys 



and one small girl, very truthful children, 
each of whom tells with detail the exact 
circumstances and appearance of the crea- 
ture. To each it happened only once, and 
in each case it was a single little figure, twice 
in the garden, once in the nursery. Inquiry 
among friends shows that many children 
have had the same experience, but they close 
up at once when met by ridicule and in- 
credulity. Sometimes the shapes are unlike 
those which they would have gathered from 
picture-books. "Fairies are like nuts and 
moss," says one child in Lady Glenconner's 
charming study of family life. My own 
children differ in the height of the creatures, 
which may well vary, but in their dress they 
are certainly not unlike the conventional 
idea, which, after all, may also be the true 

There are many people who have a recol- 
lection of these experiences of their youth, 
and try afterwards to explain them away on 
material grounds which do not seem ade- 
quate or reasonable. Thus in his excellent 
book on folk-lore, the Rev. S. Baring-Gould 
gives us a personal experience which illus- 

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trates several of the points already men- 
tioned. ' ' In the year 1838, ' ' he says, * ' when 
I was a small boy of four years old, we were 
driving to Montpelier on a hot summer day 
over the long straight road that traverses a 
pebble-and-rubble-strewn plain, on which 
grows nothing save a few aromatic herbs. 
I was sitting on the box with my father when, 
to my great surprise, I saw legions of dwarfs 
of about two feet high running along beside 
the horses; some sat laughing on the pole, 
some were scrambling up the harness to get 
on the backs of the horses. I remarked to 
my father what I saw, when he abruptly 
stopped the carriage and put me inside be- 
side my mother, where, the conveyance being 
closed, I was out of the sun.. The effect was 
that, little by little, the host of imps dimin- 
ished in number till they disappeared al- 

Here, certainly, the advocates of sunstroke 
have a strong, though by no means a final, 
case. Mr. Baring-Gould's next illustration 
is a sounder one. 

**When my wife was a girl of fifteen," he 
says, *'she was walking down a lane in York- 



shire, between green hedges, when she saw 
seated in one of the privet hedges a little 
green man, perfectly well made, who looked 
at her with his beady black eyes. He was 
about a foot or fifteen inches high. She was 
so frightened that she ran home. She 
remembers that it was a summer day." 

A girl of fifteen is old enough to be a good 
witness, and her flight and the clear detail of 
her memory point to a real experience. 
Again we have the suggestion of a hot day. 

Baring-Gould has yet a third case. ''One 
day a son of mine," he says, "was sent into 
the garden to pick pea-pods for the cook to 
shell for dinner. Presently he rushed into 
the house as white as chalk to say that while 
he was thus engaged, and standing between 
the rows of peas, he saw a little man w^earing 
a red cap, a green jacket, and brown knee- 
breeches, whose face was old and wan, and 
who had a grey beard and eyes as black and 
hard as sloes. He stared so intently at the 
boy that the latter took to his heels." 

Here, again, the pea-pods show^ that it was 
summer, and probably in the heat of the 
day. Once again the detail is very exact 


and corresponds closely, as I shall presently 
show, to some independent accounts. Mr. 
Baring-Gould is inclined to put all these 
down to the heat conjuring up the familiar 
pictures of fairy books, but some further evi- 
dence may cause the reader to doubt this 

Let us compare with these stories the very 
direct evidence of Mrs. Violet Tweedale, 
whose courage in making public the result 
of her own remarkable psychic faculties 
should meet with recognition from every 
student of the subject. Our descendants 
will hardly realize the difficulty which now 
exists of getting first-hand evidence vdth 
names attached, for they will have outgrown 
the state when the cry of "fake" and 
"fraud" and "dupe" is raised at once 
against any observer, however honourable 
and moderate, by people who know little or 
nothing of the subject. Mrs. Tweedale 

"I had a wonderful little experience some 
five years ago which proved to me the exist- 
ence of fairies. One summer afternoon I 
was walking alone along the avenue of Lup- 



ton House, Devonshire. It was an absolutely 
still day — not a leaf moving, and all Nature 
seemed to sleep in the hot sunshine. A tew 
yards in front of me my eye was attracted 
by the violent movements of a single long 
blade-like leaf of a wild iris. This leaf was 
swinging and bending energetically, while 
the rest of the plant was motionless. Expect- 
ing to see a field-mouse astride it, I stepped 
very softly up to it. What was my delight 
to see a tiny green man. He was about five 
inches long, and was swinging back-down- 
wards. His tiny green feet, which appeared 
to be green-booted, were crossed over the 
leaf, and his hands, raised behind his head, 
also held the blade. I had a vision of a 
merry little face and something red in the 
form of a cap on the head. For a full 
minute he remained in view, swinging on the 
leaf. Then he vanished. Since then I have 
several times seen a single leaf moving vio- 
lently while the rest of the plant remained 
motionless, but I have never again been 
able to see the cause of the movement. ' ' 

Here the dress of the fairy, green jacket 
and red cap, is exactly the same as was 


described independently by Baring-Gould's 
son, and again we have the elements of heat 
and stillness. It may be fairly answered 
that many artists have drawn the fairies in 
such a dress, and that the colours may in 
this way have been impressed upon the 
minds of both observers. In the bending 
iris we have something objective, however, 
which cannot easily be explained away as a 
cerebral hallucination, and the whole inci- 
dent seems to me an impressive piece of evi- 

A lady with whom I have corresponded, 
Mrs. H., who is engaged in organizing work 
of the most responsible kind, has had an 
experience which resembles that of Mrs. 
Tweedale. **My only sight of a fairy," she 
says, "was in a large wood in West Sussex, 
about nine years ago. He was a little crea- 
ture about half a foot high, dressed in leaves. 
The remarkable thing about his face was 
that no soul looked through his eyes. He 
was playing about in long grass and flowers 
in an open space." Once again summer is 
indicated. The length and colour of the 
creature correspond with Mrs. Tweedale 's 



account, while tlie lack of soul in the eyes 
may be compared with the ''hard" eyes de- 
scribed by young Baring-Gould. 

One of the most gifted clairvoyants in 
England was the late Mr. Turvey, of Bourne- 
mouth, whose book. The Beginnings of 
Seersliip, should be in the library of every 
student. Mr. Lonsdale, of Bournemouth, is 
also a well-known sensitive. The latter has 
given me the following account of an inci- 
dent which he observed some years ago in 
the presence of Mr. Turvey. 

*'I was sitting," says Mr. Lonsdale, *'in 
his company in his garden at Branksome 
Park. We sat in a hut which had an open 
front looking on to the lawn. We had been 
perfectly quiet for some time, neither talk- 
ing nor moving, as was often our habit. Sud- 
denly I was conscious of a movement on the 
edge of the lawn, which on that side went up 
to a grove of pine trees. Looking closely, I 
saw several little figures dressed in brown 
peering through the bushes. They remained 
quiet for a few minutes and then disap- 
peared. In a few seconds a dozen or more 
small people, about two feet in height, in 


bright clothes and wdth radiant faces, ran on 
to the lawn, dancing hither and thither. I 
glanced at Turvey to see if he saw anything, 
and whispered, 'Do you see them'?' He 
nodded. These fairies played about, gradu- 
ally approaching the hut. One little fellow, 
bolder than the others, came to a croquet 
hoop close to the hut and, using the hoop as a 
horizontal bar, turned round and round it, 
much to our amusement. Some of the others 
watched him, while others danced about, 
not in any set dance, but seemingly moving 
in sheer joy. This continued for four or five 
minutes, when suddenly, evidently in re- 
sponse to some signal or warning from those 
dressed in brown, who had remained at the 
edge of the lawn, they all ran into the wood. 
Just then a maid appeared coming from the 
house with tea. Never was tea so unwelcome, 
as evidently its appearance was the cause of 
the disappearance of our little visitors." 
Mr. Lonsdale adds, "I have seen fairies 
several times in the New Forest, but never 
so clearly as this." Here also the scene is 
laid in the heat of a summer day, and the 
division of the fairies into two different sorts 



is remarkably borne out by the general 

Knowing Mr. Lonsdale as I do to be a 
responsible, well-balanced, and honourable 
man, I find such evidence as this very hard 
to put to one side. Here at least the sun- 
stroke hypothesis is negatived, since both 
men sat in the shade of the hut and 
corroborated the observation of the other. 
On the other hand, each of the men, like Mrs. 
Tweedale, was supernormal in psychic de- 
velopment, so that it might well happen that 
the maid, for example, would not have seen 
the fairies, even if she had arrived earlier 
upon the scene. 

I know a gentleman belonging to one of 
the learned professions whose career as, let 
us say, a surgeon would not be helped if 
this article were to connect him with fairy 
lore. As a matter of fact, in spite of his 
solemn avocations and his practical and 
virile character, he seems to be endowed with 
that faculty — let us call it the appreciation 
of higher vibrations — which opens up so 
wonderful a door to its possessor. He claims, 
or rather he admits, for he is reticent upon 


the subject, that he has carried this power 
of perception on from childhood, and his sur- 
prise is not so much at what he sees as at the 
failure of others to see the same thing. To 
show that it is not subjective, he tells the 
story that on one occasion, while traversing 
a field, he saw a little creature which beck- 
oned eagerly that he should follow. He did 
so, and presently saw his guide pointing with 
an air of importance to the ground. There, 
between the furrows, lay a flint arrow-head 
which he carried home with him as a souvenir 
of the adventure. 

Another friend of mine who claims to have 
the power of seeing fairies is Mr. Tom 
Tyrrell, the famous medium, whose clair- 
voyance and general psychic gifts are of the 
strongest character. I cannot easily forget 
how one evening in a Yorkshire hotel a storm 
of raps, sounding very much as if someone 
were cracking their fingers and thumb, broke 
out around his head, and how with his coffee- 
cup in one hand he flapped vigorously with 
the other to warn off his inopportune visi- 
tors. In answer to my question about fairies 
he says, "Yes, I do see these little pixies or 



fairies. I have seen them scores of times. 
But only in the woods and when I do a little 
fasting. They are a very real presence to 
me. What are they? I cannot say. lean 
never get nearer to the beggars than four or 
five yards. They seem afraid of me, and 
then scamper off up the trees like squirrels. 
I dare say if I were to go in the woods 
oftener I would perhaps gain their confi- 
dence more. They are certainly like human 
beings, only very small, say about twelve or 
fifteen inches high. I have noticed they are 
brown in colour, with fairly large heads and 
standing-up ears, out of proportion to the 
size of their bodies, and bandy legs. I am 
speaking of what I see. I have never come 
across any other clairvoyant who has seen 
them, though I have read that many do so. 
Probably they have something to do with 
Nature processes. The males have very 
short hair, and the females have rather long, 
straight hair." 

The idea that these little creatures are 

occupied in consciously furthering Nature's 

projects — very much, I suppose, as the bee 

carries pollen — is repeated by the learned 



Dr. Vanstone, who combines great knowl- 
edge of theory with some considerable ex- 
perience, though a high development of in- 
tellect is, in spite of Swedenborg's example, 
a bar to psychic perception. This would 
show, if it is correct, that we may have to 
return to the classical conception of some- 
thing in the nature of naiads and fauns and 
spirits of the trees and groves. Dr. Van- 
stone, whose experiences are on the border- 
land between what is objective and what is 
sensed without being actually seen, writes 
to me: *'I have been distinctly aware of 
minute intelligent beings in connection with 
the evolution of plant forces, particularly in 
certain localities; for instance, in Eccles- 
bourne Glen. Pond life yields to me the 
largest and best sense of fairy, life, and not 
the floral world. I may be only clothing my 
subjective consciousness with unreal objec- 
tive imaginations, but they are real to me as 
sentient, intelligent beings, able to communi- 
cate with us in varying distinctness. I am 
inclined to think that elemental beings are 
engaged, like factory hands, in facilitating 
the operation of Nature's laws." 



Another gentleman who claims to have 
this most remarkable gift is Mr. Tom Char- 
man, who builds for himself a shelter in the 
New Forest and hunts for fairies as an ento- 
mologist would for butterflies. In answer 
to my inquiries, he tells me that the power 
of vision came to him in childhood, but left 
him for many years, varying in proportion 
with his own nearness to Nature. According 
to this seer, the creatures are of many sizes, 
varying from a few inches to several feet. 
They are male, female, and children. He 
has not heard them utter sounds, but believes 
that they do so, of finer quality than we can 
hear. They are visible by night as well as 
by day, and show small lights about the same 
size as glow-wonns. They dress in all sorts 
of ways. Such is Mr. Charman's account. 

It is, of course, easy for us who respond 
only to the more material vibrations to de- 
clare that all these seers are self-deluded, or 
are the victims of some mental twist. It is 
difficult for them to defend themselves from 
such a charge. It is, however, to be urged 
upon the other side that these numerous 
testimonies come from people who are very 


solid and practical and successful in the af- 
fairs of life. One is a distinguished writer, 
another an ophthalmic authority, a third a 
successful professional man, a fourth a lady 
engaged on public service, and so on. To 
waive aside the evidence of such people on 
the ground that it does not correspond with 
our o^Ti experience is an act of mental arro- 
gance which no wise man will commit. 

It is interesting to compare these various 
contemporary and first-hand accounts of 
the impressions which all these witnesses 
have received. I have already pointed out 
that the higher vibrations which we associate 
with hot sunshine, and which we actually 
seem to see in the shimmer of noontide, is as- 
sociated with many of the episodes. Apart 
from this it must be admitted that the evi- 
dence is on the whole irregular. We have 
creatures described which range from five 
inches to two and a half feet. An advocate 
of the fairies might say that, since the tradi- 
tion has always been that they procreate as 
human beings do, we are dealing with them 
in ever>^ stage of growth, which accounts for 
the varying size. 



It seems to me, however, that a better case 
could be made out if it were pleaded that 
there have always been many different races 
of fairyland, and that samples of these races 
may greatly differ from each other, and may 
inhabit varying spots; so that an observer 
like Mr. Tyrrell, for example, may always 
have seen woodland elves, which bear no 
resemblance to gnomes or goblins. The 
monkey-like, brown-clad creatures of my 
professional friend, which were over two feet 
high, compare very closely with the creatures 
which little Baring-Gould saw climbing on 
to the horses. In both cases these taller 
fairies were reported from flat, plain-like 
locations; while the little old-man type 
varies completely from the dancing little 
feminine elf so beloved by Shakespeare. In 
the experience of Mr. Turvey and Mr. Lons- 
dale, two different types engaged in different 
tasks were actually seen at the same moment, 
the one being bright-coloured dancing elves, 
while the other were the brown-coloured 
attendants who guarded them. 

The claim that the fairy rings so often 
seen in meadow or marshland are caused by 


the beat of fairy feet is certainly untenable, 
as they unquestionably come from fungi such 
as Agaricus gamhosus or Marasmius 
oreades, which grow from a centre, con- 
tinually deserting the exhausted ground, and 
spreading to that which is fresh. In this 
way a complete circle is formed, which may 
be quite small or may be of twelve-foot 
diameter. These circles appear just as 
often in woods from the same cause, but are 
smothered over by the decayed leaves among 
which the fungi grow. But though the 
fairies most certainly do not produce the 
rings, it might be asserted, and could not be 
denied, that the rings once formed, what- 
ever their cause, would offer a very charm- 
ing course for a circular ring-a-ring dance. 
Certainly from all time these circles have 
been associated with the gambols of the little 

After these modern instances one is in- 
clined to read with a little more gravity the 
accoiuit which our ancestors gave of these 
creatures ; for, however fanciful in parts, it 
still may have had some core of truth. I 
say "our ancestors," but as a matter of fact 



there are shepherds on the South Downs to 
this day who will throw a bit of their bread 
and cheese over their shoulders at dinner- 
time for the little folks to consume. All 
over the United Kingdom, and especially in 
Wales and Ireland, the belief is largely 
held among those folks who are nearest to 
Nature. First of all it was always supposed 
that they lived within the earth. This was 
natural enough, since a sudden disappear- 
ance of a solid body could only be under- 
stood in that way. On the whole, their de- 
scription was not grotesque, and fits easily 
into its place amid the examples already 
given. ''They were of small stature," says 
one Welsh authority, quoted in Mrs. Lewes 's 
Stranger than Fiction, "towards two feet 
in height, and their horses of the size of 
hares. Their clothes were generally white, 
but on certain occasions they have been seen 
dressed in green. Their gait was lively, and 
ardent and loving was their glance. . . . 
They were peaceful and kindly among them- 
selves, diverting in their tricks, and charm- 
ing in their walk and dancing. ' ' This men- 
tion of horses is somewhat out of the picture, 




but all the rest seems corroborative of what 
has already been stated. 

One of the best of the ancient accounts is 
that of the Rev. R. Kirk, who occupied a 
parish at Monteith, on the edge of the High- 
lands, and wrote a pamphlet called The 
Secret Commomvealth, about the year 1680. 
He had very clear and definite ideas about 
these little creatures, and he was by no means 
a visionary, but a man of considerable parts, 
who was chosen afterwards to translate the 
Bible into Erse. His information about 
fairies tallies very well with that of the 
Welshman quoted above. He slips up in 
imagining that flint arrow-heads are indeed 
*' fairy-bolts," but otherwise his contentions 
agree very w^ell with our modem instances. 
They have tribes and orders, according to 
this Scottish clergjrQian. They eat. They 
converse in a thin, whistling sort of lan- 
guage. They have children, deaths, and 
burials. They are fond of frolic dancing. 
They have a regular state and polity, with 
rulers, laws, quarrels, and even battles. 
They are irresponsible creatures, not hostile 
to the human race unless they have reason 



to be angry, but even inclined to be helpful, 
since some of them, the brownies, are, by 
universal tradition, ready to aid in the house- 
hold work if the family has known how to 
engage their affection. 

An exactly sunilar account comes from 
Ireland, though the little folk seem to have 
imbibed the spirit of the island to the extent 
of being more mercurial and irascible. There 
are many cases on record where they are 
claimed to have shown their power, and to 
have taken revenge for some slight. In the 
Lame Reporter of March 31, 1866, as 
quoted in True Irish Ghost Stories^ there 
is an account of how a stone which the fairies 
claimed having been built into a house, the 
inhabitants were bombarded with stones by 
invisible assailants by day and night, the 
missiles hurting no one, but causing great 
annoyance. These stories of stone-throwing 
are so common, and present such similar 
well-attested features in cases coming from 
every part of the world, that they may be 
accepted as a recognized preternatural 
phenomenon, whether it be the fairies or 
some other form of mischievous psychic 


force which caused the bombardment. The 
volume already quoted gives another re- 
markable case, where a farmer, having built 
a house upon what was really a fairy right- 
of-way between two *'raths" or fairy 
mounds, was exposed to such persecution by 
noises and other disturbances that his family 
was at last driven out, and had to take ref- 
uge in the smaller house which they had 
previously occupied. This story is narrated 
by a correspondent from Wexford, who says 
that he examined the facts himself, examined 
the deserted house, cross-examined the 
owner, and satisfied himself that there were 
two raths in the vicinity, and that the house 
was in a dead-line between them. 

I have particulars of a case in West Sussex 
which is analogous, and which I have been 
able to trace to the very lady to whom it 
happened. This lady desired to make a 
rock-garden, and for this purpose got some 
large boulders from a field hard by, which 
had always been known as the pixie stones, 
and built them into her new rockery. One 
summer evening this lady saw a tiny grey 
woman sitting on one of the boulders. The 



little creature slipped away when she knew 
that she had been observed. Several times 
she appeared upon the stones. Later the 
people in the village asked if the stones might 
be moved back to the field, "as," they said, 
''they are the pixie stones, and if they are 
removed from their place, misfortunes will 
happen to the village." The stones were 

But supposing that they actually do exist, 
what are these creatures? That is a subject 
upon which we can speculate only with more 
or less plausibility. Mr. David Gow, editor 
of Light, and a considerable authority upon 
psychic matters, had first f oniied the opinion 
that they were simply ordinary human 
spirits, seen, as it were, at the wrong end of a 
clairvoyant telescope, and therefore very 
minute. A study of the detailed accounts of 
their varied experience caused him to alter 
his view, and to conclude that they are really 
life forms which have developed along some 
separate line of evolution, and which for 
some morphological reason have assumed 
human shape in the strange way in which 
Nature reproduces her types like the figures 


on the mandrake root or the frost ferns upon 
the window. 

In a remarkable book, A Wanderer in 
the Spirit Lands, published in 1896, the 
author, Mr. Farnese, under inspiration gives 
an account of many mysteries, including that 
of fairies. What he says fits in very closely 
with the facts that have been put forward, 
and goes beyond them. He says, speaking 
of elementals: ''Some are in appearance 
like the gnomes and elves who are said to 
inhabit mountain caverns. Such, too, are 
the fairies whom men have seen in lonely 
and secluded places. Some of these beings 
are of a very low order of life, almost like 
the higher order of plants, save that they 
possess independent motion. Others are 
very lively and full of grotesque, unmean- 
ing tricks. ... As nations advance and 
grow more spiritual these lower forms of life 
die out from the astral plane of that earth's 
sphere, and succeeding generations begin at 
first to doubt and then to deny that they 
ever had anj^ existence. ' ' This is one plausi- 
ble way of explaining the disappearance 
of the faun, the dryad, the naiad, and all the 



creatures which are alluded to with such 
familiarity in the classics of Greece and 

One may well ask what connection has this 
fairy-lore with the general scheme of psychic 
philosophy ? The connection is slight and in- 
direct, consisting only in the fact that any- 
thing which widens our conceptions of the 
possible, and shakes us out of our time- 
rutted lines of thought, helps us to regain 
our elasticity of mind, and thus to be more 
open to new philosophies. The fairy ques- 
tion is infinitely small and unimportant com- 
pared to the question of our own fate and 
that of the whole human race. The evidence 
also is very much less impressive, though, as 
I trust I have shown, it is not entirely negli- 
gible. These creatures are in any case remote 
from us, and their existence is of little more 
real importance than that of strange animals 
or plants. At the same time, the perennial 
mystery why so many *' flowers are born to 
blush unseen," and why Nature should be 
so lavish with gifts which human beings 
cannot use, would be solved if we under- 
stood that there were other orders of being 


which used the same earth and shared its 
blessings. It is at the lowest an interesting 
speculation which gives an added charm to 
the silence of the woods and the wilderness 
of the moorland. 




From the foregoing chapter it will be 
clear that there was a good deal of evidence 
which cannot easily be brushed aside as to 
the existence of these little creatures before 
the discovery of the photographs. These va- 
rious witnesses have nothing to gain by their 
testimony, and it is not tainted by any mer- 
cenary consideration. The same remark ap- 
plies to a number of cases which w^ere com- 
municated to me after the appearance of the 
articles in the Strand. One or two were 
more or less ingenious practical jokes, but 
from the others I have selected some which 
appear to be altogether reliable. 

The gentleman whom I have already 

quoted under the name of Lancaster — ^he 

who was so doubtful as to the validity of the 

photographs — is himself a seer. He says: 



** Personally I should describe fairies as 
being about 2 feet 6 inches to 3 feet in height, 
and dressed in duffle brown clothes. The 
nearest approach I can get to them is to say 
that they are spiritual monkeys. They have 
the active brains of monkeys, and their gen- 
eral instinct is to avoid mankind, but they 
are capable individually of becoming ex- 
tremely attached to humans — or a human — 
but at any time they may bite you, like a 
monkey, and repent immediately afterwards. 
They have thousands of years of collective 
experience, call it inherited memory' if you 
like, but no reasoning faculties. They are 
just Peter Pans — children who never grow 

'^I remember asking one of our spirit 
group how one could get into touch with the 
brownies. He replied that when you could 
go into the woods and call the brown rab- 
bits to you the other brownies will also come 
to you. Speaking generally, I should imag- 
ine that anyone who has had any truck with 
fairies must have obeyed the scriptural in- 
junction to 'become as a little child,' i.e. he 
or she must be either simple or a Buddha.'* 



This last phrase is a striking one, and it 
is curiously confirmed by a gentleman named 
Matthews, writing on January 3, 1921, from 
San Antonio, Texas. He declared that his 
three daughters, now married women, could 
all see fairies before the age of puberty, but 
never after it. The fairies said to them: 
*'We are not of the human evolution. Very 
few humans have ever visited us. Only old 
souls well advanced in evolution or in a state 
of sex innocence can come to us." This re- 
peats independently the idea of Mr. Lan- 

These children seem to have gone into a 
trance state before they found themselves 
in the country of the fairies — a country of 
intelligent beings, very small, 12 to 18 inches 
high. According to their accounts, they were 
invited to attend banquets or celebrations, 
excursions on beautiful lakes, etc. Each 
child was able to entrance instantly. This 
they always did when they visited Fairyland, 
but when the fairies came to them, which 
was generally in the twilight, they sat in 
chairs in normal state watching them dance. 
The father adds : '*My own children learned 


in this way to dance, so that at local enter- 
tainments audiences were delighted, though 
they never knew from what source they 

My correspondent does not say whether 
there is a marked difference between the 
European and the American type of fairy. 
No doubt, if these results are confirmed and 
followed up, there will be an exact classi- 
fication in the future. If Bishop Leadbeat- 
er's clairvoyance can be trusted, there is, as 
will afterwards be shown, a very clear dis- 
tinction between the elemental life of va- 
rious countries, as well as many varieties in 
each particular country. 

One remarkable first-hand case of seeing 
fairies came from the Rev. Arnold J. 
Holmes. He wrote: 

"Being brought up in the Isle of Man 
one breathed the atmosphere of supersti- 
tion (if you like to call it), the simple, beau- 
tiful faith of the Manx fisher folk, the child- 
like trust of the Manx girls, who to this day 
will not forget the bit of wood and coal put 
ready at the side of the fireplace in case 



the *little people* call and need a fire. A 
good husband is the ultimate reward, and 
neglect in this respect a bad husband or no 
husband at all. The startling phenomena oc- 
curred on my journey home from Peel Town 
at night to St. Mark's (where I was Incum- 

*' After passing Sir Hall Caine's beautiful 
residence, Greeba Castle, my horse — a spir- 
ited one — suddenly stopped dead, and look- 
ing ahead I saw amid the obscure light and 
misty moonbeams what appeared to be a 
small army of indistinct figures — very small, 
clad in gossamer garments. They appeared 
to be perfectly happy, scampering and trip- 
ping along the road, having come from the 
direction of the beautiful sylvan glen of 
Greeba and St. Trinian's Roofless Church. 
The legend is that it has ever been the fair- 
ies' haunt, and when an attempt has been 
made on two occasions to put a roof on, the 
fairies have removed all the work during 
the night, and for a century no further at- 
tempts have been made. It has therefore 
been left to the * little people' who claimed 
it as their own. 


*'I watched spellbound, my horse half mad 
with fear. The little happy army then 
turned in the direction of Witch's Hill, and 
mounted a mossy bank; one * little man' of 
larger stature than the rest, about 14 inches 
high, stood at attention until all had passed 
him dancing, singing, with happy abandon, 
across the Valley fields towards St. John's 

The wide distribution of the fairies may 
be judged by the following extremely inter- 
esting narrative from Mrs. Hardy, the wife 
of a settler in the Maori districts of New 
Zealand : 

*' After reading about what others have 
seen I am encouraged to give you an experi- 
ence of my own, which happened about five 
years ago. Will you please excuse my men* 
tioning a few domestic details connected 
with the story? Our home is built on the 
top of a ridge. The ground was levelled for 
some distance to allow for sites for the house, 
buildings, lawns, etc. The ground on either 
side slopes steeplj^ down to an orchard on 
the left, and shrubbery and paddock on the 



right, bounded by the main road. One eve- 
ning when it was getting dusk I went into 
the yard to hang the tea-towels on the 
clothes-line. As I stepped off the verandah, 
I heard a sound of soft galloping coming 
from the direction of the orchard. I thought 
I must be mistaken, and that the sound came 
from the road, where the Maoris often gal- 
lop their horses. I crossed the yard to get 
the pegs, and heard the galloping coming 
nearer. I walked to the clothes-line, and 
stood under it with my arms uplifted to peg 
the towel on the line, when I was aware of 
the galloping close behind me, and suddenly 
a little figure, riding a tiny pony, rode right 
under my uplifted arms. I looked round, 
to see that I was surrounded by eight or ten 
tiny figures on tiny ponies like dwarf Shet- 
lands. The little figure who came so close 
to me stood out quite clearly in the light that 
came from the window, but he had his back 
to it, and I could not see his face. The faces 
of the others were quite brown, also the 
ponies were brown. If they wore clothes 
they were close-fitting like a child's jersey 
suit. They were like tiny dwarfs, or chil- 


dren of about two years of age. I was very 
startled, and called out, 'Goodness! what is 
this V I think I must have frightened them, 
for at the sound of my voice they all rode 
through the rose trellis across the drive, and 
down the shrubbery. I heard the soft gal- 
loping dying away into the distance, and lis- 
tened until the sound was gone, then went 
into the house. My daughter, who has had 
several psychic experiences, said to me: 
* Mother, how white and startled you look! 
What have you seen? And who were you 
speaking to just now in the yard?' I said, 
*I have seen the fairies ride!' " 

The little fairy horses are mentioned by 
several writers, and yet it must be admitted 
that their presence makes the whole situa- 
tion far more complicated and difficult to 
understand. If horses, why not dogs ? And 
we find ourselves in a whole new world upon 
the fairy scale. I have convinced myself 
that there is overwhelming evidence for the 
fairies, but I have by no means been able to 
assure myself of these adjuncts. 

The following letter from a young lady in 



Canada, daughter of one of the leading citi- 
zens of Montreal, and personally known to 
me, is interesting on account of the enclosed 
photograph here reproduced. She says : 

**The enclosed photograph was taken this 
summer at Waterville, New Hampshire, 
with a 2a Brownie camera (portrait lens at- 
tached) by Alverda, eleven years old. The 
father is able, clear-headed, enthusiastic on 
golf and billiards ; the mother on Japanese 
art; neither interested in psychic matters 
much. The child has been frail and imagi- 
native, but sweet and incapable of deceit. 

*'The mother tells me she was with the 
child when the picture was taken. The mush- 
rooms pleased the little girl, and she knelt 
down and photographed them. As an in- 
dication of their ordinary size, they are 
Amainta muscaria. 

** There was no such figure to be seen as 
appears in the picture. 

"There was no double exposure. The pic- 
ture astonished them when developed. The 
parents guarantee its honesty, but are mys- 



'Do you think shadows, etc., can explain 
it? I think the line of the right shoulder 
and arm especially are too decisive to be thus 
brushed away. " 

I rather agree with the writer, but it is a 
point which each reader can decide for him- 
self upon examination of the photograph. 
It is certainly very vague after the York- 
shire examples. 

New Zealand would appear to be quite a 
fairy centre, for I have another letter from 
a lady in those beautiful islands, which is 
hardly less interesting and definite than the 
one already quoted. She says : 

*'I have seen fairies in all parts of New 
Zealand, but especially in the fern-clad gul- 
lies of the North Island. Most of my un- 
foldment for mediumship was carried out 
in Auckland, and during that time I spent 
hours in my garden, and saw the fairies 
most often in the evening just after sun- 
set. From observation I notice they usu- 
ally lived or else appeared about the peren- 
nial plants. I saw brown fairies and green 
fairies, and they all had wings of a filmy 



appearance. I used to talk to them and 
ask them to make special pet plants and cut- 
tings I put in the garden grow well, and I 
am sure they did, by the results I got. Since 
I came to Sydney, I have also seen the green 
fairies. I tried an experiment last spring. 
I had some pheasant-eye narcissus growing 
in the garden. I saw the green fairies about 
them. I transplanted one of the bulbs to a 
pot when half -grown, and took it with me 
when I went away for a short holiday. I 
asked the fairies to keep it growing. I 
watched it closely every evening — a green- 
clad fairy, sometimes two or three of them, 
would appear on the pot under the plant and 
whatever they did to it during the night I 
do not know, but next morning it was very 
much bigger, and, although transplanted, 
etc., it flowered three weeks before those in 
the garden. I am now living at Rochdale, 
Sydney, with friends both Australians and 
Spiritualists, and they also have seen the 
fairies from childhood up. I am sure ani- 
mals see them. The fairies appear every 
evening in a little wild corner of the garden 
we leave for them, and our cat sits and 


watches them intently, but never attempts 
to spring at them as he does at other moving 
objects. If you care to make use of the in- 
formation contained in this letter, you are 
welcome to do so. ' ' 

I had another interesting letter from Mrs. 
Koberts, of Dunedin, one of the most gifted 
women in psychic matters whom I met dur- 
ing my Australian wanderings, in which she 
describes, as the last writer has done, the 
intimate connection between these elemental 
forms of life and the flowers, asserting that 
she has continually seen them tending the 
plants in her own garden. 

From Ireland I received several fairy 
stories which seemed to be honestly told, even 
if some margin must be left for errors of ob- 
servation. One of these seems to link up 
the fairy kingdom with spiritual communi- 
cation, for the writer, Miss Winter, of Blar- 
ney, in Cork, says; 

*'We received communications from a 
fairy named Bebel several times, one of them 
lasting nearly an hour. The communication 



was as decided and swift as from the most 
powerful spirit. He told us tliat he was a 
Leprechaun (male), but that in a ruined 
fort near us dwelt the Pixies. Our demesne 
had been the habitation of Leprechauns al- 
ways, and they with their Queen Picel, 
mounted on her gorgeous dragon-fly, found 
all they required in our grounds. 

*'He asked most lovingly about my little 
grandchildren, who visit us frequently, and 
since then he has been in the habit of (Com- 
municating with them, when we have yielded 
the table to them entirely, and just listened 
to the pure fun he and they were having to- 
gether. He told them that the fairies find 
it quite easy to talk to the rabbits, and that 
they disliked the dogs because they chased 
them. They have great fun with the hens, 
on whose backs they ride, but they do not 
like them because they * j eer ' at them. When 
he mentioned the old fort, I thought he re- 
ferred to Blarney Castle, not far away, but 
on relating the incident to a farmer ^s daugh- 
ter, whose family has been in the neighbour- 
hood for a very long time, she informed me 
that a labourer's cottage at the entrance to 


our avenue is built on the site of an old 
fort, information absolutely new to us." 

A few more may be added to my list of 
witnesses, which might be greatly extended. 
Miss Hall, of Bristol, writes : 

*'I, too, have seen fairies, but never until 
now have I dared to mention it for fear of 
ridicule. It was many years ago. I was 
quite a child of six or seven years, and then, 
as now, passionately fond of all flowers, 
which always seem to me living creatures. 
I was seated in the middle of a road in some 
cornfields, playing with a group of poppies, 
and never shall I forget my utter astonish- 
ment at seeing a funny little man playing 
hide-and-seek among these flowers to amuse 
me, as I thought. He was quick as a dart. 
I watched him for quite a long time, then he 
disappeared. He seemed a merry little fel- 
low, but I cannot ever remember his face. 
In colour he was a sage-green, his limbs were 
round and had the appearance of geranium 
stalks. He did not seem to be clothed, and 
was about three inches high and slender. I 



often looked for him again, but without suc- 

Mr. J. Foot Young, the well-known water 
diviner, writes : 

"Some years ago I was one of a party in- 
vited to spend the afternoon on the lovely 
slopes of Oxef ord Hill, in the county of Dor- 
set. The absence of both trees and hedges 
in this locality enables one to see without 
obstruction for long distances. I was walk- 
ing with my companion, who lives in the lo- 
cality, some little distance from the main 
party, when to my astonishment I saw a 
number of what I thought to be very small 
children, about a score in number, and all 
dressed in little gaily-coloured short skirts, 
their legs being bare. Their hands were 
joined, and all held up, as they merrily 
danced round in a perfect circle. We stood 
watching them, when in an instant they all 
vanished from our sight. My companion 
told me they were fairies, and that they often 
came to that particular part to hold their 
revels. It may be our presence disturbed 


Mrs. Ethel Enid Wilson, of Worthing, 
writes : 

**I quite believe in fairies. Of course, 
they are really nature spirits. I have often 
seen them on fine sunny days playing in the 
sea, and riding on the waves, but no one I 
have ever been with at the time has been 
able to see them, excepting once my little 
nephews and nieces saw them too. They 
were like little dolls, quite small, with beauti- 
ful bright hair, and they were constantly 
moving and dancing about." 

Mrs. Rose, of Southend-on-Sea, told us in 
a chat on the subject : 

*'I think I have always seen fairies. I see 
them constantly here in the shrubbery by 
the sea. They congregate under the trees 
and float around about the trees, and gnomes 
come around to protect them. The gnomes 
are like little old men, with little green caps, 
and their clothes are generally neutral 
green. The fairies themselves are in light 
draperies. I have also seen them in the con- 
servatory of my house, floating about among 



the flowers and plants. The fairies appear 
to be perpetually playing, excepting when 
they go to rest on the turf or in a tree, and I 
once saw a group of gnomes standing on 
each others' shoulders, like gymnasts on the 
stage. They seemed to be living as much as 
I am. It is not imagination. I have seen 
the gnomes arranging a sort of mo^s bed for 
the fairies, just like a mother-bird putting 
her chicks to bed. I don't hear any sounds 
from the gnomes or fairies, but they always 
look happy, as if they were having a real 
good time. 


Miss Eva Longbottom, L.R.A.M., A.R.C. 

M., of Bristol, a charming vocalist, who has 
been blind from birth, told us in an inter- 

**I have seen many fairies with my mind's 
eyes (that is, clairvoyantly ) . They are of 
various kinds, the ones I see. The music 
fairies are very beautiful. 'Argent' de- 
scribes them, for they make you think of sil- 
ver, and they have dulcet silvery voices. 
They speak and sing, but more in sound than 
in distinct words — a language of their own. 


a fairy tongue. Their music is a thing we 
cannot translate. It exists in itself . I don't 
think Mendelssohn has truly caught it, but 
Mr. Coleridge-Taylor's music reminds me of 
the music I have heard from the fairies 
themselves ; his fairy ballads are very charm- 

"Then there are dancing fairies. Their 
dancing is dainty and full of grace, a sweet 
old style of dance, without any tangles in it. 
I am generally alone when I see them, not 
necessarily in a woodland, but wherever the 
atmosphere is poetical. They are quite real. 

''Another kind is the poem fairies. They 
are more ethereal, and of a violet shade. 
If you could imagine Perdita in the Mid- 
summer Night ^s Dream, translated from the 
stage into a real fairy, you would have a 
good idea of the poem fairy. She has a 
very beautiful girlish character. The same 
might be said of Miranda, but she is more 

"The colour fairies are also most interest- 
ing. If you can imagine each colour trans- 
formed into a fairy you may get an idea of 
what they are like. They are in airy forms 



and dance and sing in the tone of their col- 
ours. I have not seen any browTiies, as I 
do not take so much interest in the domestic 
side of the fairies' life. 

''When I was young I had it so much im- 
pressed on me that fairies were imaginary 
beings that I would not believe in them, but 
when I was about fourteen I began to real- 
ize them, and now I love them. Perhaps it 
was the deeper study of the arts that brought 
them to me. I have felt a symx)athetic vi- 
bration for them and they have made me feel 
that we were friends. I have had a great 
deal of happiness and good fortune in my 
life, and perhaps I can attribute some of 
that to the fairies.'' 

These last examples I owe to Mr. John 
Lewis, Editor of the Psychic Gazette, who 
collected them. I think I may fairly claim 
that if all of them be added to those which I 
have quoted in my original article, and these 
again be linked up with the Cottingley chil- 
dren and photographs, we are in a position 
to present our case with some confidence to 
the public. 



Of all religions and pMlosopliies in West- 
ern lands I know none save that ancient 
teaching now called Theosophy which has 
any place in it for elemental forms of life. 
Therefore, since we have established some 
sort of independent case for their existence, 
it is well that we should examine carefully 
what they teach and see how far it fits in 
with what we have been able to gather or 
to demonstrate. 

There is no one who has a better right to 
speak upon the point than my co-worker, 
Mr. E. L. Gardner, since he is both the dis- 
coverer of the fairies and a considerable au- 
thority upon theosophic teaching. I am 
glad, therefore, to be able to include some 
notes from his pen. 

"For the most part," he writes, ''amid 
the busy commercialism of modern times, 



the fact of their existence has faded to a 
shadow, and a most delightful and charm- 
ing field of nature study has too long been 
veiled. In this twentieth century there is 
promise of the world stepping out of some 
of its darker shadows. Maybe it is an indi- 
cation that we are reaching the silver lining 
of the clouds when we find ourselves sud- 
denly presented with actual photographs of 
these enchanting little creatures — relegated 
long since to the realm of the imaginary and 

*'Now, what are the fairies'? 

"First, it must be clearly understood that 
all that can be photographed must of neces- 
sity be physical. Nothing of a subtler order 
could in the nature of things affect the sen- 
sitive plate. So-called spirit photographs, 
for instance, imply necessarily a certain de- 
gree of materialization before the 'form' 
could come within the range even of the most 
sensitive of films. But well within our phys- 
ical octave there are degrees of density that 
elude ordinary vision. Just as there are 
many stars in the heavens recorded by the 
camera that no human eye has ever seen di- 


rectly, so there is a vast array of living crea- 
tures whose bodies are of that rare tenuity 
and subtlety from our point of view that they 
lie beyond the range of our normal senses. 
Many children and sensitives see them, and 
hence our fairy lore — all founded on actual 
and now demonstrable fact! 

"Fairies use bodies of a density that we 
should describe, in non-technical language, 
as of a lighter than gaseous nature, but we 
should be entirely wrong if we thought them 
in consequence unsubstantial. In their own 
way they are as real as we are, and perform 
functions in connection with plant life of 
an important and most fascinating charac- 
ter. To hint at one phase — many a reader 
will have remarked on the lasting freshness 
and beauty of flowers cut and tended by one 
person, and, on the other hand, their com- 
paratively short life when in the care of an- 
other. The explanation is to be found in 
the kindly devotion of the one person and 
the comparative indifference of the other, 
which emotions affect keenly the nature spir- 
its in whose immediate care the flowers are. 



Their response to lovej and tenderness is 
quickly evidenced in their charges. 

*' Fairies are not born and do not die as 
we do, though they have their periods of 
outer activity and retirement. Allied to the 
lepidoptera, or butterfly genus, of our fa- 
miliar acquaintance rather than to the mam- 
malian line, they partake of certain charac- 
teristics that are obvious. There is little or 
no mentality awake — simply a gladsome, ir- 
responsible joyousness of life that is abun- 
dantly in evidence in their enchanting aban- 
don. The diminutive human form, so widely 
assumed, is doubtless due, at least in a great 
measure, to the powerful influence of hmnan 
thought, the strongest creative power in our 

''In the investigations I have pursued in 
Yorkshire, the New Forest, and Scotland, 
many fairy lovers and observers have been 
interviewed and their accounts compared. 
In most cases I was interested to note that 
my share in making public the photographs 
of Cottingley was the worst sort of intro- 
duction imaginable. Few fairy lovers have 
looked with favour on that. Reproaches 


have been frequent and couched in no meas- 
ured terms, for the photographs have been 
resented as an unwarranted intrusion and 
desecration. Only after earnest assurances 
as to my own attitude could I get farther and 
obtain those intimate confidences that I have 
compared and checked and pieced together 
and am at liberty to narrate here. 

*'The function of the nature spirit of 
woodland, meadow, and garden, indeed in 
connection with vegetation generally, is to 
furnish the vital connecting link between 
the stimulating energy of the sun and the 
raw material of the form. That growth of 
a plant which we regard as the customary 
and inevitable result of associating the three 
factors of sun, seed, and soil would never 
take place if the fairy builders were absent. 
We do not obtain music from an organ by 
associating the wind, a composer's score, and 
the instrument — the vital link supplied by 
the organist, though he may be unseen, is 
needed — and similarly the nature spirits are 
essential to the production of the plant. 

"The Fairy Body. — The normal working 
body of the gnome and fairy is not of human 



nor of any other definite form, and herein 
lies the explanation of much that has been 
puzzling concerning the nature-spirit king- 
dom generally. They have no clean-cut shape 
normally, and one can only describe them 
as small, hazy, and somewhat luminous 
clouds of colour with a brighter spark-like 
nucleus. As such they cannot be defined in 
terms of form any more than one can so de- 
scribe a tongue of flame. In such a body 
they fill their office, working inside the plant 
structure. * Magnetic' is the only word that 
can describe their method. Instantly re- 
sponsive to stimulus, they appear to be in- 
fluenced from two directions — the physical 
outer conditions prevailing and an inner in- 
telligent urge. These two influences deter- 
mine their working activity. Some, and 
these are by far the most numerous, work on 
cell construction and organization, and are 
comparatively small when assuming the hu- 
man form, being two to three inches high. 
Others are concerned exclusively with root 
development below ground, while others are 
apparently specialists in colour and * paint' 
the flowers by means of the streaming mo- 


tion of their cloud-like bodies. There ap- 
pears to be little trace of any selective or 
discriminating work done individually. They 
all seem actuated by a common influence 
that affects them continuously, and which 
strongl}^ suggests the same tyi^e of instinc- 
tive prompting that marks the bee and ant. 
*'The Human Form. — Though the nature 
spirit must be regarded as practically irre- 
sponsible, living a gladsome, joyous, and de- 
lightfully untrammelled life, each member 
appears to possess at least a temporary defi- 
nite individuality at times, and to rejoice in 
it. The diminutive human form — sometimes 
grotesque, as in the case of brownie and 
gnome, sometimes beautifully graceful, as 
in the surface-fairy variety — if conditions 
allow, is assumed in a flash. For a while 
it is retained, and it seems clear that the 
definite and comparatively concrete shape 
affords pleasure above the ordinary. There 
is no organization perceptible, as one might 
perhaps hastily infer. The content of the 
body still appears homogeneous, though 
somewhat denser, and the shape of 'human' 
is usually only seen when not at work. The 



nature spirit so clothed indulges in active 
movement in skipping and dancing gestures 
and exhibits a gay abandon suggestive of the 
keenest delight in the exi^erience. It is evi- 
dently 'time o:ff' and play for it, though its 
work seems charming enough. If disturbed 
or alarmed the change back to the slightly 
subtler vehicle, the magnetic cloud, is as sud- 
den as the birth. What determines the shape 
assumed and how the transformation is ef- 
fected is not clear. One may speculate as 
to the influence of human thought, individ- 
ual or in the mass, and quite probably the 
explanation when found will include this 
influence as a factor — but I am intent here 
not on theorizing, but on a narrative of ob- 
served happenings. One thing is clear — 
the nature-spirit form is objective — objec- 
tive, that is, in the sense in which we apply 
that term to a stone, a tree, and a human 

"Fairy Wings. — The wings are a feature 
that one would hardly expect to find in con- 
junction with arms. In this respect the in- 
sect type, with its several limbs and two or 
more wings, is a nearer model. But there is 


no articulation and no venation, and more- 
over the wings are not used for flying. 
* Streaming emanations ' is the only descrip- 
tion one can apply. In some varieties, par- 
ticularly the sylphs, the streamers surround 
the body, as by a luminous aura sprayed to 
a feathery mist. I was told that the earlier 
and more elaborate Red Indian headdresses 
must have been inspired from this source, so 
suggestive are they, though the best of them 
are but poor copies of the originals. 

**FooD. — There is no food taken, as we 
should regard it. Nourishment, usually 
abundant and ample for sustenance, is ab- 
sorbed directly by a rhythmic breathing or 
pulse. Resource to the magnetic bath on oc- 
casion appears to be their only special 
restorative. The perfume of flowers is 
delighted in, and, reversely, disagreeable 
odours repel. This is one of many reasons, 
besides timidity, why human society is usu- 
ally avoided, there being little that is invit- 
ing in that connection for them, and much 
that is obnoxious. 

*' Birth, Death, and Sex. — Any estimate 
of length of life is misleading, because com- 



parison with ourselves cannot be made. 
There is no real birth nor death, as we un- 
derstand the terms — simply a gradual emer- 
gence from, and a return to, a subtler state 
of being. This process takes some time, 
probably years in certain varieties, and their 
life on the denser level, corresponding to our 
adult period, may be as long as the average 
human. There is nothing definite in all this, 
however, except the fact of the gradual emer- 
gence and return. There is no sex, as we 
should regard it, though, so far as I can 
gather, there is division and sub-division of 
'body' at a much subtler and earlier level 
than that usually sensed. This process 
seems to correspond to the fission and bud- 
ding of our familiar simple animalcules, 
with the addition, towards the end of the 
cycle, of fusion or reassembly into the larger 

*' Speech and Gestuee. — Below the sylph 
there ajopears to be nothing, or very little, 
in the way of a language of words. Com- 
munication is possible by inflexion and ges- 
ture, much as the same can be exercised with 
domestic animals. Indeed, the relation of 


human with the lower nature spirits seems 
to be about on a par with that of kittens, pup- 
pies, and birds. Yet there is abundant evi- 
dence of a tone language among them. Music 
by pipe and flute is common, though to the 
human ear of the quaintest character — ^but 
whether the instrument or the voice is the 
real source I cannot yet determine. The 
higher orders of nature spirits are adding 
mentality to the emotional development, and 
speech with them is possible. Their attitude 
to ordinary humanity is unfriendly rather 
than well disposed, and often hostile, aris- 
ing probably from our utter disregard of 
the amenities. I am beginning to see sense 
and reason in the * burnt-offerings' of yore. 
Pollution of the atmosphere is a horror to 
the sylphs and deeply resented. An ancient 
saying I had seen somewhere came to mind 
when discussing the beautiful air-spirits and 
their work : * Agni (Fire) is the mouth of the 
gods ! ' Our sanitary and burial customs are 
doubtless still capable of improvement ! One 
fairy lover said to me gleefully, *Ah, well! 
you will never be able to get photographs of 
the sylphs — ^they know too much for you!' 



If we can establish friendly relations with 
them, though, the weather may be ours, if 
that be desirable I 

^' Cause and Effect. — The dissection and 
examination of vegetable forms, however 
exhaustive, is but an analysis of effects. No 
adequate cause is therein to be found any 
more than a dissection of a sculpture will 
disclose the craftsman. The amazing skill 
in evidence in the plant kingdom in construc- 
tion, adaptation, and adornment demand 
the labour of workman, mechanic, and artist. 
Their recognition in the nature spirits fills 
the vague hiatus between the sun's energy 
and the material wrought. On our own hu- 
man side of the line the finding of two pieces 
of wood nailed together would unmistakably 
point to a workman of sorts, yet we are ac- 
customed to gaze with wonder and admira- 
tion on the exquisitely built forms of a whole 
kingdom, and murmur 'evolutionary proc- 
esses,' or 'the hand of God,' according to 
our temperament. An agent is necessary on 
the one side and no less on the other. 

''Mode of Working. — The feature that 
will appeal to every nature lover interested 


in the vital processes of plant life is the 
craftsmanship of the nature-spirit agent. 
An inference, if it be simple enough, often 
escapes us, though in this case the experi- 
ences gathered of our own human labour 
suggest the analogy vividly. An analogy 
with a difference, however, for the hidden 
manner of work of the nature spirit is in 
most respects the exact opposite in charac- 
ter to our own. In this physical world we 
labour with hands and tools, and work con- 
sistently on exteriors, always indeed han- 
dling and applying our material from the 
outside. Addition, accretion, is our construc- 
tive method. We find ourselves made that 
way, and it is our characteristic mode of 
approach. The nature spirits operate from 
the interior, working from a centre out- 
wards. Their aim appears to be to achieve 
an ever-closer touch with the environment, 
and to that end the driving urge of their ac- 
tivity is how best to adapt the means to their 
hand. It is easy to perceive the cause of va- 
riety in nature in view of this striving en- 
deavour to organize the vehicle that the na- 
ture spirits use, and so gain in endless ways 



a closer touch. Flower colouring, mimicry, 
seed protection and distribution, defensive 
and aggressive measures, all the thousand- 
and-one devices employed to attain an end, 
point to an intelligence working through 
agents who, at their own level, are often in 
more or less antagonistic relation with each 
other. Variety and difference is as much in 
evidence as among humanity, and makes for 
that diversity of form and custom that we 
find on our side so fruitful of experience. 
In the tilling of the soil and the culture of 
plant life for our own purposes we have 
worked intimately together — though uncon- 
sciously. The efforts of nature spirits work- 
ing by themselves without our assistance 
produce the wild flowers and berries of our 
woodlands and meadows, while partnership 
with the human yields a record of cultivated 
cereal, flower, and fruit, immensely richer. 
"Plant Consciousness. — The relation of 
the nature spirit to the consciousness func- 
tioning through the vegetable kingdom gen- 
erally is an interesting study too, for the 
twain appear quite separate. This might 
perhaps be likened to the role respectively of 


crew and passenger in a ship. The slumber- 
ing, or at best slowly awakening, conscious- 
ness of the plant, makes of it little more 
than an idle traveller, whereas the nature 
spirits, alert and active, attend to the up- 
keep and navigation of the craft, and the 
voyage through the kingdom means a growth 
and development for both. 

*'The Future. — What might follow an 
intelligent understanding of the 'little peo- 
ple,' and the establishment of mutual good 
feeling, opens up a prospect alluring in the 
extreme. It would be for us a working in 
the light instead of in darkness. A foretaste 
of such co-operation may be gathered by 
noting the effect of a devoted lover of flow- 
ers on his or her charges. The nature spirit 
responds to emotion and appears keenly ap- 
preciative of kindly attention and affection. 
Whether this applies with any force to any 
but the varieties concerned with flowers and 
fruits I cannot say, but it certainly does to 
them, and the intelligent direction of effort 
in place of empirical incident tempts one's 
speculation to run riot as to future possi- 



"The awakened self -consciousness of the 
human kingdom, with a vigorous mentality 
linked to kindly emotion and physical ac- 
tion, may enable an ages-old debt to be ad- 
justed. We have served the nature-spirit 
line of evolution consciously not at all, but 
by understanding the situation we can co- 
operate together intelligently and helpfully, 
and the service of both to mutual advantage 
can take the place of blind experiment and 
groping self-interest." — E. L. G. 

In the literature of Theosophy, I know 
no one who treats the elemental forces of 
nature more fully than Bishop Leadbeater, 
whom I met in my Australian travels, and 
who impressed me by his venerable appear- 
ance, his ascetic habits, and his claims to a 
remarkable clairvoyancy which has, as he 
alleges, opened up many of the Arcana. In 
his book The Hidden Side of Things he talks 
very fully of the fairies of many lands. 

Dealing with the little creatures whom so 
many of my informants have seen tending 
flowers, the seer says : 

''The little creatures that look after 


flowers may be divided into two great classes, 
though of course there are many varieties 
of each kind. The first class may properly 
be called elementals, for, beautiful though 
they are, they are in reality only thought- 
forms, and therefore they are not really liv- 
ing creatures at all. Perhaps I should 
rather say that they are only temporary liv- 
ing creatures, for, though they are very 
active and busy during their little lives, they 
have no real evolving, reincarnating life in 
them, and when they have done their work 
they just go to pieces and dissolve into the 
surrounding atmosphere, precisely as our 
own thought-forms do. They are the 
thought-forms of the Great Beings, or an- 
gels, who are in charge of the evolution of 
the vegetable kingdom. 

^'When one of these Great Ones has a new 
idea connected with one of the kinds of 
plants or flowers which are under his charge, 
he often creates a thought-form for the spe- 
cial purpose of carrying out that idea. It 
usually takes the form either of an etheric 
model of the flower itself or of a little crea- 
ture which hangs round the plant or the 



flower all through the tirae that the buds are 
forming, and gradually builds them into the 
shape and colour of which the angel has 
thought. But as soon as the plant has fully 
grown, or the flower has opened, its work is 
over and its power is exhausted, and, as I 
have said, it just simply dissolves, because 
the will to do that piece of work was the 
only soul that it had. 

*'But there is quite another kind of lit- 
tle creature which is very frequently seen 
playing about with flowers, and this time it 
is a real nature spirit. There are many va- 
rieties of these also. One of the commonest 
forms is, as I have said, something very 
much like a humming-bird, and it may often 
be seen buzzing round the flowers much in 
the same way as a humming-bird or a bee 
does. These beautiful little creatures will 
never become human, because they are not in 
the same line of evolution as we are. The 
life which is now animating them has come 
up through grasses and cereals, such as 
wheat and oats, when it was in the vegetable 
kingdom, afterwards through ants and bees 
when it was in the animal kingdom. Now it 


has reached the level of these tiny nature 
spirits, and its next stage will be to ensoul 
some of the beautiful fairies with etheric 
bodies who live upon the surface of the earth. 
Later on they will become salamanders, or 
fire spirits, and later still they will become 
sylphs, or air spirits, having only astral 
bodies instead of etheric. Later still they 
will pass through the different stages of the 
great kingdom of the angels." 

Speaking of the national characteristics 
of fairies, he says with all the assurance of 
an actual observer (page 97) : 

"No contrast could well be more marked 
than that between the vivacious, rollicking, 
orange-and-purple or scarlet-and-gold man- 
nikins who dance among the vineyards of 
Sicily and the almost wistful grey-and-green 
creatures who move so much more sedately 
amidst the oaks and furze-covered heaths in 
Brittany, or the golden-brown 'good people' 
who haunt the hillsides of Scotland. 

'*In England the emerald-green kind is 
probably the commonest, and I have seen it 
also in the woods in France and Belgium, in 



far-away Massachusetts, and on the banks 
of the Niagara River. The vast plains of 
the Dakotas are inhabited by a black-and- 
white kind which I have not seen elsewhere, 
and California rejoices in a lovely white- 
and-gold species which also appears to be 

"In Australia the most frequent type is a 
very distinctive creature of a wonderful 
luminous sky-blue colour ; but there is a wide 
diversity between the etheric inhabitants of 
New South Wales or Victoria and those of 
tropical Northern Queensland. These lat- 
ter approximate closely to those of the 
Dutch Indies. Java seems specially prolific 
in these graceful creatures, and the kinds 
most common there are two distinct types, 
both monochromatic — one indigo blue with 
faint metallic gleamings, and the other a 
study in all known shades of yellow — quaint, 
but wonderfully effective and attractive. 

**A striking local variety is gaudily ringed 
with alternate bars of green and yellow, like 
a football jersey. This ringed type is pos- 
sibly a race peculiar to that part of the 
world, for I saw red and yeUow similarly 


arranged in the Malay Peninsula, and green 
and white on the other side of the Straits in 
Sumatra. That huge island also rejoices 
in the possession of a lovely pale heliotrope 
tribe which I have seen before only in the 
hills of Ceylon. Down in New Zealand 
their speciality is a deep blue shot with sil- 
ver, while in the South Sea Islands one 
meets with a silvery- white variety, which 
coruscates with all the colours of the rain- 
bow, like a figure of mother-of-pearl. 

*'In India we find all sorts, from the deli- 
cate rose-and-pale-green, or pale-blue-and- 
primrose of the hill-coimtry to the rich med- 
ley of gorgeously gleaming colours, almost 
barbaric in their intensity and profusion, 
which is characteristic of the plains. In 
some parts of that marvellous country I have 
seen the black-and-gold type which is more 
usually associated with the African desert, 
and also a species which resembles a statu- 
ette made out of a gleaming crimson metal, 
such as was the orichalcum of the Atlan- 

''Somewhat akin to this last is a curious 
variety which looks as though cast out of 



bronze and burnished; it appears to make 
its home in the immediate neighbourhood 
of volcanic disturbances, since the only- 
places in which it has been seen so far are 
the slopes of Vesuvius and Etna, the interior 
of Java, the Sandwich Islands, the Yellow- 
stone Park in North America, and a certain 
part of the North Island of New Zealand. 
Several indications seem to point to the con- 
clusion that this is a survival of a primi- 
tive type, and represents a sort of interme- 
diate stage between the gnome and the fairy. 
*'In some cases, districts close together are 
found to be inhabited by quite different 
classes of nature spirits ; for example, as has 
already been mentioned, the emerald-green 
elves are common in Belgium, yet a hundred 
miles away in Holland hardly one of them is 
to be seen, and their place is taken by a sober- 
looking dark-purple species." 

Very interesting indeed is his account of 
the Irish fairies. Speaking of a sacred 
mountain in Ireland, he says : 

"A curious fact is that altitude above the 

sea-level seems to affect their distribution, 


those who belong to the moimtains scarcely 
ever intermingling with those of the plains. 
I well remember, when climbing Slieve-na- 
mon, one of the traditionally sacred hills of 
Ireland, noticing the very definite lines of 
demarcation between the different types. 
The lower slopes, like the surrounding 
plains, were alive with the intensely active 
and mischievous little red-and-black race 
which swarms all over the south and west of 
Ireland, being especially attracted to the 
magnetic centres established nearly two 
thousand years ago by the magic-working 
priests of the old Milesian race to ensure 
and perpetuate their domination over the 
people by keeping them under the influence 
of the great illusion. After half an hour's 
climbing, however, not one of these red-and- 
black gentry was to be seen, but instead the 
hill-side was populous with the gentler blue- 
and-brown type which long ago owed special 
allegiance to the Tuatha-de-Danaan. 

*' These also had their zone and their well- 
defined limits, and no nature spirit of either 
type ever ventured to trespass upon the 
space round the summit, sacred to the great 



green angels who have watched there for 
more than two thousand years, guarding one 
of the centres of living force that link the 
past to the future of that mystic land of 
Erin. Taller far than the height of man, 
these giant forms, in colour like the first new 
leaves of spring, soft, luminous, shimmer- 
ing, indescribable, look forth over the world 
with wondrous eyes that shine like stars, full 
of the peace of those who live in the eternal, 
waiting with the calm certainty of knowl- 
edge until the appointed time shall come. 
One realizes very fully the power and impor- 
tance of the hidden side of things when one 
beholds such a spectacle as that. ' ' 

For fuller information the reader may 
well be referred to the original, published 
by the Theosophical Publishing House. The 
book is a storehouse of knowledge upon all 
occult matters, and certainly the details con- 
cerning the fairies fit in remarkably well 
with the information from other sources. 

I have now laid before the reader the full 
circumstances in connection with the five 
successful photographs taken at Cottingley. 


I have added the experience of a clairvoyant 
officer in the company of the girls upon the 
third and unsuccessful attempt to get photo- 
graphs. I have analysed some of the criti- 
cism which we have had to meet. I have 
given the reader the opportunity of judging 
the evidence for a considerable nimiber of 
alleged cases, collected before and after the 
Cottingley incident. Finally, I have placed 
before him the general theory of the place 
in creation of such creatures, as defined by 
the only system of thought which has found 
room for them. Having read and weighed 
all this, the investigator is in as strong a po- 
sition as Mr. Gardner or myself, and each 
must give his own verdict. I do not myself 
contend that the proof is as overwhelming 
as in the case of spiritualistic phenomena. 
We cannot call upon the brightest brains 
in the scientific world, the Crookes, the 
Lodges, or the Lombrosos, for confirmation. 
But that also may come, and for the present, 
while more evidence will be welcome, there 
is enough already available to convince any 
reasonable man that the matter is not one 
which can be readily dismissed, but that a 



case actually exists which up to now has not 
been shaken in the least degree by any of 
the criticism directed against it. Far from 
being resented, such criticism, so long as it 
is earnest and honest, must be most welcome 
to those whose only aim is the fearless search 
for truth. 


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