What Have "Outlander" And The Cottingley Fairies Got In Common?
'Sing me a song.......!'
God, we love them don't we? Jamie Fraser, all six foot and a bit, flaming red hair and Scottish burr, that makes our toes shrivel up to our knees.
And Claire. Stubborn, caring, English, swears like a trouper while taking the bull, or Jamie, by the horns and telling them to sit, and sit now or else!
Along with the fabulous Scottish landscape, wars, fighting blood and guts, and dollops of such hilarious humor that you want to reach into the screen or book, grab the character out and give them a big hug and a kiss for making you feel so warm, comforted and happy.
Millions of people tune in each week to watch this amazing dose of daring-do. But what is it about this particular series that makes us all burst into tears when Jamie gives her That Look, or cry with laughter when Claire remarks Jesus H. Roosevelt Christ, and promptly slaps someone round the face?
Well I will tell you. It's because they are real. Or as real as they can possibly get. Which makes them our heroes. And boy do we need them these days.
What do I mean by real? Well we can't talk about Outlander without mentioning the genius behind the words.
Diana Gabaldon. I have no idea how she does it. She, or Herself as we call her, takes an idea in her mind, weaves it into reality and then puts layers and layers of blood sweat and tears on the bones of each and every character. Then she colors them in another layer. This one is personality, feeling, love, hate, and hurt. Mix in a dollop of humor and boy she has got a winner.
Now this may not be difficult with one or two characters. But Diana does this with every single person in her books. And you know what?
She doesn't forget! From one book to another there is never a flaw, glitch or personality boo boo that makes the readers yell, wrong! Eight books so far, and many side stories with the wonderful Lord John Grey who is coming our way. This guy is going to be huge too. Let's face it, he is going to be Jamie's bestie for at least 30 odd years!
So, we have covered whys and whats, but what is the missing magic ingredient?
Well let me tell you.
It's magical fantasy. Or in plain English: We need them. Why?
The World is going Mad!
Wars, murder, race hate you name it, it's happening all over the world. I don't know whats happening to us, but boy every single time we turn on the TV, Internet, or Radio we get great ugly dollops of pain, anguish and bewildering death.
It makes us feel vulnerable, sad, and angry. We get scared for our own families and friends. We despair at the trauma and trouble round the world and we want to yell NO!
When we are surrounded by fear and pain we reach out and grab something so magical we take it to our hearts and immerse ourselves in it. You think Outlander is the first time we have done this? Well no.
Have you ever heard of the real life story of the Cottingley Fairies? Its a fascinating tale of belief, love and overwhelming need. And it happened in 1917.
The Cottingley Fairies
In 1917 at the height of the First World War in a small village called Cottingley near Bradford, something rather special happened.
Two young cousins, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, 16 and 9 years old told their parents that they had photographed fairies!
9 year old Frances, who had just arrived from South Africa with her mother came to stay with her aunt, Elsie's mother.
There was a small stream or beck at the bottom of the garden, and both children would play there most days.
This was a small haven in a world gone mad. Even though it was so peaceful most of the villagers had family away at war. When the children came back in from playing, covered in mud, leaves, and soaking feet, they told their parents that they had been following the fairies.
Of course to start with the adults believed it was just child's play. But soon, after constantly they constantly insisted that 'There really are fairies," Elsie's father Arthur, who was an amateur photographer decided to lend them his camera. it was an old Midg. Quarter Plate. Very simple and therefore not easy to produce false photos with.
Fairies at the bottom of the Garden!
After 30 minutes the girls returned with a look of triumph on their faces. Arthur, seeing their excitement, took the camera to his Dark Room and set about making the photos. To his astonishment he saw something that he never would have believed.
There in the woods near the beck showed Frances behind a bush, and in the front, in all their glory were four Fairies dancing in front of the camera!
He was astonished! But soon he dismissed the photo and decided that it was fake. After a few more photos had been taken Arthur still didn't believe, but his wife did. Frances then sent the photos to her relatives in South Africa, where they started to circulate.
In 1919 Frances mother attended a meeting of the Theosophical Society in Bradford. The talk was on fairies and other mystical figures.
Soon the members of the meeting began to believe, and soon they came to the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, writer of the Sherlock Holmes series.
But it was when Edward Gardner, one of the leading lights at the Society, decided to look into it further that it really took off. After much publicity the story began to take on its own life.
Soon thousands of people were traveling up to Cottingley, hoping to see with their own eyes the amazing Cottingley fairies.
Soon the family and local villagers decided enough was enough. Trampling through their woodland and causing a mess! Indeed! And so the story died down.
But it didn't stop their. Many years later, after the two girls married and moved away, grew older and then retired, they were tracked down by various reporters. One being the famous Scientific Fraudster James Randi! He went on to claim that "of course the photos are fake" after studying them. This was in 1976. Soon the girls confessed and the truth came out.
They had cut and pasted the fairies from magazines, and had added the wings themselves.
But till their end, both girls claimed that the Cottingley fairies had been real, and one of the photos was also real.
The Fifth Photograph
Elsie claimed that it was a fake, just like the others, but Frances always insisted that it was genuine.
In an interview in the early 1980s Frances said:
'It was a wet Saturday afternoon, and we were just mooching about with our cameras and Elsie had nothing prepared. I saw these fairies building up in the grasses and just aimed the camera and took a photograph'.
Of course we will never really learn the truth. Did they really see a Fairy? I can hear you all laughing saying 'No of course not'.
But let me just remind you of another so called myth and legend.
The Little People. Throughout history people have been saying that they have seen little people, and leaving food outside for them. Especially in Ireland.
Back in 2002, on the Indonesian island of Flores, scientists discovered something amazing.
Little People! Or more precisely, Homo Floresiensis. In fact they have just discovered more bones that point to the fact that those little people were in fact smaller the farther you go back in history. 700,000 years earlier to be precise!
Real or not, The Cottingley Fairies, Outlander and many more are there for a reason. They keep us sane. In a world that seems to be going mad, we need something magical.
And thank goodness for that!
A Fairy Tale - The True Story
I absolutely loved this film. It's a great introduction to the Cottingley Fairy stories, but brings its own magic when the children meet and photograph the fairies. Great for kids and adults, and as I mentioned above, sometimes you need a magical escape from reality.
This is it.
- Outlander: Facts, Quotes, and Did-You-Knows?
We all love Outlander, so while we enjoy this season and wait till the next here's a few strange history facts, along with a few "well I never's"! Take a look at these gorgeous gifts!
Questions & Answers
© 2016 Nell Rose