The Case of the Cottingley Fairies

by Joe Cooper | History |
ISBN: 0671010263 Global Overview for this book
Registered by BizzieLizzie of Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on 3/7/2005
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2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by BizzieLizzie from Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Monday, March 07, 2005
I read this book years ago and was moderately fascinated by the story of the 2 young girls seeing fairies at the bottom of their garden.

Journal Entry 2 by futurecat from Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Tuesday, March 08, 2005
Picked up at the meetup tonight.

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Journal Entry 3 by futurecat from Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Monday, April 11, 2005
Joe Cooper believes in fairies. He makes that clear right from the start of this book, and also that although he (grudgingly) accepts that the Cottingly fairy photographs were faked, he still believes that the two girls who took the photos *did* actually see fairies. And those strong beliefs mean that he's not exactly an unbiased objective investigator...

(Some slight spoilers follow, if you've never heard about the fairy photos before. Highlight the blank space below to read the text.)

I already knew vaguely of the story of the Cottingly fairies, and knew that Cooper was the person who first revealed that they were fakes, so I was expecting this to be a hard-hitting sceptical account of how he managed to finally get Frances and Elsie to admit to faking the photos (after they'd been denying it for nearly 70 years). Instead, it turns out he totally beleived everything they told him (and even found plenty of "evidence" to back up their claims), never suspecting a thing right up until Frances said "There are things you should know" and finally told him the truth.

It's actually quite a useful illustration of how careful any fortean investigator has to be not to let prior belief colour their interpretation of events - in his desperation to find proof that fairies exist, he takes evidence that most people would say points to their non-existence, and tries to turn it around to say the opposite - e.g. he says that the reason most descriptions of fairies from supposed eye-witnesses match the illustrations in children's books is because the illustrators are obviously tapping into some sort of racial memory of what fairies really look like. Yeeessss...

At least he's got the grace to admit how totally wrong he was (his reaction when Frances reveals the truth makes for quite amusing reading), but unfortunately, he just can't let go of the idea that they did see fairies, and now suggests that these two old women must be lying when they say they didn't (yet up until that point, he'd been going on about how he had total faith in their honesty and integrity!)


It's also unfortunate that Cooper uses the book a bit too often as a platform to push his other metaphysical/spiritual ideas (some of which got so weird that they became incomprehensible, and I found myself skipping ahead to the next paragraph in the hope of finding some plain English again). I've read better and more interesting accounts of the Cottingly fairies (in particular ones that concentrate on what the special appeal of fairies is that we so want to believe in them, and why so many intelligent people were so easily fooled by what (with hindsight) look like obvious fakes - those aspects of the story are much more interesting to me than Cooper's metaphysical ramblings), but this book was still interesting, if only to read the account of someone who was "in the thick of the action" as the story came to its close.

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Journal Entry 4 by futurecat at Cafe Bleu, City Mall in Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand on Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Released 15 yrs ago (4/12/2005 UTC) at Cafe Bleu, City Mall in Christchurch, Canterbury New Zealand

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

RELEASE NOTES:

Left in the cafe after tonight's meetup. One of the staff members said she was going to put the books on a shelf in the bar - could this be a proto-OCZ?

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