On the left is Elsie
Wright's best known photo, pictures Frances Griffiths accompanied by a cluster
of fairies. On the right are Florence Hoath and Elizabeth Earl who play Elsie
Wright and Frances Griffiths in the movie Fairy Tale, A True Story.
With only a camera and
remarkable talents as storytellers, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths managed
to convince millions of people that they had contacted and photographed tiny,
angelic fairies. However light-hearted, inventive and innocent, both girls
were lying through their teeth.
By age 15, Elsie
possessed skills as a budding artist as well as a photographer. She had drawn
and painted the fairy figures, which were then held in place by hat pins. With
Frances posing sweetly, Elsie photographed the entire composition. 3
Frivolous, almost harmless hoaxes such as the fairy photographs may seem
ridiculous, but they reveal a side of hoaxes which more sinister examples
often fail to convey.
The key to a hoax's
success depends on a division in our perceptions and, subsequently, in the
manner in which we assess evidence, a division of which we are ordinarily
unaware. A "good" hoax appeals to more than our analytic minds. It
enters our emotions and offers something which we enjoy and, once savored, are
reluctant to give up. Few of us believe in fairies, but we all like a good
story with amazing elements, something that every "good" hoax