Spirits and Fairies

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

Spirits and Fairies is a letter written by Arthur Conan Doyle first published in The Evening News (Portsmouth) on 5 july 1926.

Spirits and Fairies

The Evening News (Portsmouth) (5 july 1926)


Sir, — In a kindly notice of my work, your paper has one sentence to which I should like to take good-humoured exception. You say, His ghost and fairy photographs simply will not bear, quite apart from logical common-sense, the light of experts analysis." Let us discuss this.

So far as logical common-sense goes, every new departure — the wireless, the heavier-than-air flying machine, and many others — seems to be ruled out. We must realise that it is only actual experience which counts.

As to the spirit photographs, I have in the last two months exposed under test conditions 28 plates with Mrs. Deane (the same medium who got the Cenotaph picture), and I have had 18 psychic results. In the course of these experiments I have taken with me the editors of three great London papers (names enclosed for your own information), who checked the proceedings and marked the plates which they had brought. None of them could suggest any possible precaution which had been neglected. What is the worth of the opinion of those who were not there against such testimony as that?

Now for the Collingley fairy photographs. They were taken by two children using their father's camera in a Yorkshire Wood. They are artistic and beautiful to the last degree. We submitted the negatives to Mr. Snelling, who was for 30 years expert of the Autotype Co. and Illingworth's large photographic factory. He certified two things: (1) That it was a single exposure ; (2) that the figures were moving when taken. After getting this opinion, I submitted the negatives to two experts of the Kodak Company. They found no evidence of superposition or any other trick. Several minor authorities have given the same verdict. None have ever been able to pick any hole, though there have been several newspaper inquiries upon the subject. Every fresh fact which has come to light has served to strengthen the case for the honesty of the girls. That being so, what is the excuse for imputing credulity to me in the matter? What negative evidence is there to put against the volume of positive evidence which I have collected in my book upon the subject? I should be really interested to hear of it, as my mind is always open. — Yours faithfully,


Crowborough, Sussex.
July 3, 1926.