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Posted on Sunday, October 16 - 2005

" All of us, when we were children, believed in fairies. Here, JOE COOPER tells the extraordinary story of two little girls who not only believed in fairies, but made friends with them–and even captured them on film. IN THE WEEK BEFORE the end of the First World War, the 11..."

All of us, when we were children, believed in fairies. Here, JOE COOPER tells the extraordinary story of two little girls who not only believed in fairies, but made friends with them–and even captured them on film. IN THE WEEK BEFORE the end of the First World War, the 11-year-old Frances Griffiths sent a letter to a friend in South Africa, where she had lived most of her life. Dated 9 November 1918, it ran:

Dear Joe [Johanna],

I hope you are quite well. I wrote a letter before, only I lost it or it got mislaid. Do you play with Elsie and Nora Biddles? I am learning French, Geometry, Cookery and Algebra at school now. Dad came home from France the other week after being there ten months, and we all think the war will be over in a few days. We are going to get our flags to hang upstairs in our bedroom. I am sending two photos, both of me, one of me in a bathing costume in our back yard, Uncle Arthur took that, while the other is me with some fairies up the beck, Elsie took that one. Rosebud is as fat as ever and I have made her some new clothes. How are Teddy and dolly?

An ordinary and matter-of-fact letter from a schoolgirl to her friend, one might say, apart from the rather startling reference to fairies. But, as both Frances and her cousin Elsie Wright have since pointed out (they are now grandmothers), they were not particularly surprised by seeing fairies; they seemed a natural part of the rural countryside around the `beck' (stream) at the bottom of the long garden in Cottingley, near Bradford, in West Yorkshire.

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