The Fairy Ring: Or Elsie and Frances Fool the World
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The enchanting true story of a girl who saw fairies, and another with a gift for art, who concocted a story to stay out of trouble and ended up fooling the world.
Frances was nine when she first saw the fairies. They were tiny men, dressed all in green. Nobody but Frances saw them, so her cousin Elsie painted paper fairies and took photographs of them "dancing" around Frances to make the grown-ups stop teasing. The girls promised each other they would never, ever tell that the photos weren’t real. But how were Frances and Elsie supposed to know that their photographs would fall into the hands of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle? And who would have dreamed that the man who created the famous detective Sherlock Holmes believed ardently in fairies— and wanted very much to see one? Mary Losure presents this enthralling true story as a fanciful narrative featuring the original Cottingley fairy photos and previously unpublished drawings and images from the family’s archives. A delight for everyone with a fondness for fairies, and for anyone who has ever started something that spun out of control.
was darkness. It was something called a Blackout, Frances’s parents said. It would last all night, every night, until the Great War was over. Frances and her parents walked down the gangplank and through the dark, cold streets. They boarded a train, and it rattled through the night. Sometimes it stopped and soldiers got off. More soldiers got on, with their guns and helmets and heavy packs. When morning came, the train pulled into a small station. The sign on the platform said BINGLEY, and
Bradford at a boring job. But she still loved to paint. Frances thought her paintings were wonderful. So that was Elsie, Frances’s first friend in England. She loved a good laugh, she loved to paint, and she didn’t like being teased. Those things were the key to everything that happened later. But neither of them knew that yet. Now that the weather was nice, Frances walked home from school instead of taking the trolley. She went to an expensive school in Bingley because it was better
in a magazine called The Unexplained: Mysteries of Mind Space & Time, and they were announced on the cover alongside such stories as “Men from Mars” and “Whatever Happened to Dragons?” And he didn’t say how he knew that the fairies were paper cutouts. Still, Frances and Elsie were outraged. “You’re a traitor,” Frances told him on the telephone. She slammed down the receiver. Elsie wrote him in mock Yorkshire, “Tha’s properly muckied tha’ ticket wi’ me!” After that, both Elsie and Frances
November 25, 1920, letter from Edward Gardner to Elsie Wright, Brotherton Collection. “Fairies Photographed: An Epoch-Making Event Described by A. Conan Doyle” and “the two most astounding photographs ever published!”: Strand Magazine 60, no. 360 (December 1920), pp. 463 and 462, Brotherton Collection. “Should the incidents here narrated . . . examination and judgment” and “final and absolute proof”: Doyle, p. 39. “Mr. Gardner, however, tested her . . . those in the photograph”: Ibid., p. 57.
front gate and stepped through a tiny garden. It was shaped like a postage stamp, with a low fence all around it. It was the last in a line of postage-stamp gardens, one for each of the seven houses in the row. The front door opened onto a small, formal parlor with flowered wallpaper. Lace curtains framed the room’s one window, which looked out onto the muddy lane that was Main Street. If Frances went through the parlor (taking care not to knock over one of the potted palms or bang into the