Once upon a time – in 1917, to be precise – it was thought that fairies could be found at the bottom of a garden right here in Bradford. Two young cousins, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, shocked the world with a series of astonishing photographs that appeared to show scenes of fairy gatherings at Cottingley beck. Authentication by none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle led to fairy-mania throughout the country and visitors travelling to the town were even told they had arrived in Fairyland.

One hundred years may have passed, but the story has taken on a life of its own, attracting global attention through both books and film. Whilst the girls eventually admitted that most of their photographs were artistic fakes, both remained adamant that they had seen the fairies and Frances continued to claim that the final photograph was, in fact, real.

Bringing together the British tradition of fairies with fairy-tales from cultures around the world and set against the backdrop of this magical story, academic, Merrick Burrow, photographer, John Hyatt will examine why it is that children everywhere, no matter how or where they grow up, continue to be fascinated by fairies. They may even try to answer the all-important question: did the Cottingley fairies really exist?

About The Speakers

Merrick Burrow

Dr Merrick Burrow is Head of English at the University of Huddersfield, specialising in both literary and popular Victorian fiction, masculinities and material culture, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  He is currently working on a monograph exploring Conan Doyle’s endorsement of the Cottingley Fairies photographs.

John Hyatt

John is an artist, Professor of Contemporary Art and Director of ART LABS at LJMU, and polymath who has exhibited art research worldwide. Hyatt recently received global popular media attention for his digital photographs of Rossendale Fairies. Music fans know John as singer/songwriter with legendary post-punk band, The Three Johns.

Diane Purkiss

About The Host

Kirsty Logan

Kirsty Logan is a writer, performer, literary editor, writing mentor and book reviewer. She is the author of short story collections The Rental Heart and Other Fairytales and A Portable Shelter, and one novel, The Gracekeepers. She regularly performs her stories at events and festivals throughout the world.