The Cottingley Fairies Incident ~ A Timetable
July 1917 ~ Cousins Elsie Wright, 16, and Frances Griffiths, 10, take first of five fairy photos by a stream near Elsisâ€™s home in Cottingley, England. Elsie takes picture
of her cousin with several fairies dancing in front of her.
August 1917 ~ Frances takes a photograph of Elsie with a gnome.
November 9, 1918 ~ Frances sends letter to a friend, Johanna, with fairy photo enclosed, casually mentioning fairies as part of normal life.
Summer 1919 ~ Photos become public when Elsieâ€™s mother, Polly Wright, mention them at a meeting of the Theosophical Society.
Early 1920 ~ Photos in possession of leading Theosophist, Edward Gardner (E.L.Gardner), who has a photographic expert, Fred Barlow, check them for authenticity.
June 1920 ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyle preparing for an article on fairies to be published at the end of November 1920, commissioned by the Strand magazine for their
Christmas issue, when he hears about photos. He makes contact with Gardner and borrows copies.
July 1920 ~ Conan Doyle sends Edward Gardner to Cottingley, to check out story. He finds the Wrights to be honest, respectable people.
August 192O ~ Frances Griffiths asked to come back to Cottingley from Scarborough, where she has gone to live with her mother and father after the World War I. Her
Aunt Polly has written to say that Edward Gardner is travelling up from London, with new cameras, so that the cousins may take more fairy photographs to add to the two
they took in 1917. Frances a month away from her 14th birthday.
August 19, 1920 ~ Elsie and Frances take two more fairy photos.
August 21, 1920 ~ Fifth and final photo taken.
November 1920 ~ Issue of the Strand containing Conan Doyleâ€™s article and the girlsâ€™ first two photos sells out within days of publication.
November 27, 1920 ~ South Wales Argus periodical â€œThe day we kill our Santa Claus with our statistics we shall have plunged a glorious world into deepest darknessâ€�
and their thought for the day was a Welsh proverb: â€œTis true as the fairy tales told in books.â€�
January 5, 1921 ~ Truth periodical â€œFor the true explanation of these fairy photographs what is wanted is not a knowledge of occult phenomena but a knowledge of
January 29, 1921 ~ City News periodical â€œIt seems at this point that we must either believe in the almost incredible mystery of the fairy or in the almost incredible
wonders of faked photographs.â€�
1921 ~ Conan Doyle uses the last three photographs to illustrate a second article in the Strand magazine.
August 1921 ~ Last â€œexpeditionâ€� made to Cottingley. Clairvoyant Geoffrey Hodson, brought along to verify any fairy sightings. The fairies refuse to be
photographed although they are reported seen by Hodson and Elsie.
1922 ~ Sir Arthur Conan Doyleâ€™s The Coming of the Fairies published.
1945 ~ Edward Gardnerâ€™s Fairies: A Book of Real Fairies published.
1966 ~ Peter Chambers of the Daily Express discovers where Elsie lives.
1971 ~ BBC-TV program Nationwide interviews Elsie for ten days including a trip back to Cottingley. No hoax admitted, although she is fairly non-commital in her answers.
September 1976 ~ Austin Mitchell interviews Elsie and Frances for Yorkshire Television
1978 ~ The `Amazing Randi' (a professional American stage illusionist and self-appointed debunker of all paranormal phenomena) and a team from New Scientist subject the
photographs to â€œenhancementâ€�, a process used to bring out greater detail, and thought they could see strings attached to some figures. Randi also pointed out that the
figures in the first photograph bore a resemblance to those in an illustration in Princess Mary's Gift Book, published in 1914.
Late 1981/mid 1982 ~ Frances Way (nÃ©e Griffiths) and Elsie Hill (nÃ©e Wright), admit that the first four photos were faked, but that they did see fairies. Frances insists
the last picture is real.
1997 ~ Movie â€œFairy Tale: A True Story", beased on this incident, is released. Starred Florence Hoath and Elizabeth Earl as the two young girls, Paul McGann and
Phoebe Nicholls as Elsieâ€™s parents, Peter O' Toole as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harvey Keitel as Harry Houdini, and a cameo by Mel Gibson as Francesâ€™ father.
|<-Frances, far left,
and Elsie, in the
first two photos,
taken in 1917.
Frances, near right,
and Elsie, in the
next two photos,
taken in 1920. ->
<- Frances took this final picture in
1920, and swears it is authentic.
|"Fairy Tale: A True
Story" ~ well worth
checking out whether
you're a believer or not!