Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Fairy Ring

The Fairy Ring, Or, Elsie and Frances Fool the World

Fake photography has been around since the invention of cameras.   As the addictive Hoax Photo Archive proves, there are numerous cases of trick photos that have captivated and fooled any number of people. Few have been as infamous, baffling, and intriguing as the Cottingley Fairies hoax.

Elsie and Frances are fed up with their family teasing them about their belief in fairies; they decide to trick them by creating fairy cutouts and photographing themselves interacting with the cutouts. Although Elsie's father is not convinced, Elsie's mother, who has an interest in the spirituality craze sweeping the Edwardian world at the time, takes a great interest in the pictures.  When her mother mentions at a Theosophy meeting that her daughter took photographs of fairies, the girls' prank snowballs into an international media frenzy, making it quite complicated for the girls to come clean with the truth.

Mary Losure is sympathetic to the young cousins; although she never calls them liars outright (one cousin maintained that she did see fairies, and in her own way and mindset, perhaps she did, as her belief in the pretty winged creatures was probably an escape; this attitude may confuse very young readers) she clearly shows how the photographs were faked (the original photographs are reproduced in the book). She demonstrates the condescending attitude Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (and others) had toward the young girls, as he believed that no girls from their poor Yorkshire background could create trick photography and fool their "betters."

Candlewick Press is noted for their beautiful productions, and The Fairy Ring is no exception.  This is a lovely book to touch and hold, being printed on the standard smooth Candlewick paper.  The Fairy Ring is a remarkable and offbeat book about one of the greatest hoaxes of our time.

No comments: