The Cottingley Fairies: An Epilogue

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

The Cottingley Fairies: An Epilogue is an article written by Arthur Conan Doyle published in The Strand Magazine in february 1923.

The Cottingley Fairies: An Epilogue

The Cottingley Fairies: An Epilogue in The Strand Magazine (february 1923, p. 105)

Two years ago, without committing itself either to belief or to incredulity, THE STRAND MAGAZINE was the means of laying before the world the evidence as to the fairies seen and photographed by the two children of Cottingley. Since that time the facts have been collected in a volume and published by Messrs. Hodder and Stoughton under the title of "The Coming of the Fairies." There has been great discussion upon the point, and some critics have permitted themselves to be very hot and even rude upon the matter, but of solid argument there has been none, unless we are to regard it as an argument that it is a very extraordinary and incredible development, which is very true, but might equally be said of wireless and other modern discoveries. The fact that there has been no weak point found in the case is certainly not for want of looking for it, and the position of the children. and therefore of the fairies, is now a very strong one — though I have personally always stated tat I was ready to consider any theory of thought forms which could be shown to meet the facts. The only theory which I would not discuss was the honesty of the children, for that I considered to be well attested.

A curious corroboration of it has now come to hand through the courtesy of Mr. A. W. Wells, of the Cape Argus, who began as a complete sceptic and is still puzzled by the whole occurrence. He had written an article criticizing the fairies and reproducing one of the pictures. This reproduction came into the hands of a Miss Johanna Parvin, aged eighteen, living in a suburb of Cape Town. She wrote at once to say that little Francis, aged ten, had been a friend of hers before leaving South Africa and had written a post-card and a letter to her at the time in which she told her of those fairy pictures which were only rescued from oblivion two years later. The vital parts of these are here reproduced.

Such is the contribution which South Africa has made to the controversy. In my view it is a very important one. Me. Maurice Hewlett, who has called the episode a " silly " one, and has cast ridicule on part of it because he professes to "understand children," will be able to tell us whether these child letters are faked, and, if so, why this little girl should take such pains to deceive her friend at the other side of the globe. Major Hall-Edwards may also have something to say. In fact, there are a good many apologies due to the children f o r criticism which could only mean that they were dishonest little wretches. That line of comment must now be definitely abandoned by every fair-minded critic, but what other one is open?