What Have "Outlander" And The Cottingley Fairies Got In Common?

Outlander Jamie and Claire
Outlander Jamie and Claire | Source

'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?

Outlander | Source

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.

Cottingley Fairies
Cottingley Fairies | Source
Cottingley Fairies
Cottingley Fairies | Source

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.

The Cottingley Fairies Still from the Movie
The Cottingley Fairies Still from the Movie | Source

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!

Fairy Tale a True Story Movie
Fairy Tale a True Story Movie | Source

Just Magical.

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.

© 2016 Nell Rose

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Comments 36 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 2 months ago from Olympia, WA

This must be a British thing. LOL I've never heard, seen or read about either of them, so thanks for the education. We Yanks aren't too bright sometimes. What sets us apart is we are proud of our ignorance. LMAO

Nice article, Nell! Hope you are feeling better.

Lori 2 months ago

Nell, Nice synthesis! I like that fairy story and the movie too.I am glad to hear that my Outlander obsession is in response to stressful times. I thought it was menopause! (Or worse, Celebrity Worship Disorder!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

Thanks Billy, no Outlander is huge in America, but thats okay, lol! and it was just one of those whimsy hubs, so if it sinks then, never mind! lol!

MizBejabbers profile image

MizBejabbers 2 months ago

Nell, this is great! I'm not sure I've ever heard of the Cottingley Fairies. I would really like to see Outlander but it is on the Starz channel here, which is a pay extra channel, and we don't do those. After the series is old enough, hopefully it will be switched to regular cable channels or even local channels that run old series, and then I will be able to watch LOL.

But you're right in that we all need a little dose of fantasy to help us keep our sanity. Right now our reality is too unreal, so something out of this world gives us a diversion.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

Hi Miz, its not shown over here, but we have to buy it from Amazon Prime, so I watch it on my pc. I have loved the books for 20 years! and I really do feel like this when I watch it. especially after seeing the news recently, what a nightmare! the fairies were fascinating weren't they? thanks so much for reading, nell

Louise 2 months ago

I always told my children and grandchildren, isn't it more fun to believe than to always degbunk! Imagination explands the mind in many ways.Believe!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

LOL! Thanks Lori! I think its a bit of both to be honest! but I do need to turn my brain off totally sometimes with all the horrible stuff in the world, just seeing Sam makes me smile!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

Thanks Louise, yes I completely agree with you!

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 2 months ago from southern USA

Hi Nell,

Well, I've been trying to come up with something new to watch, as my husband seems to enjoy so many series and such, that I gave up LOL. But now that I know what I've been missing, I am going to get him to watch it with me too! It sounds wonderful from what you've described and so I am looking forward to watching it. I am one to not watch too much tv, but if it is something great like this sounds, I will take time to watch it and become obsessed LOL.

I actually know of the Cottingley Fairies and it is a fascinating phenomenon of how it all came about and kept such a secret for so long throughout their lives of the truth.

Great hub!

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA

I haven't heard of this but enjoyed the escapism from all the stuff going on in the world. Must be a British show?

AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 2 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

I've never seen Outlander, but since you've mentioned it I'll look out for the show. I agree very much with what you say, Nell - we do need some fantasy to help us through these difficult times.

Fiona Jean Mckay profile image

Fiona Jean Mckay 2 months ago from South Africa

I don't believe that the photos were real but I do believe that there are fairies - it's nice to think that there is some magic in the world. I enjoyed reading this article, thanks :)

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

Hi Faith, You have to start at the beginning, you mustn't miss a second! lol! its the best thing thats ever been on tv, you are going to love it! And yes those Cottingley fairies definitely stirred up the village at the time, even as far as london, with Conan Doyle involved! thanks so much for reading, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

Hi flourish, no its written by an american author, Diana Gabaldon, mainly filmed in Scotland, but its huge all over the world. evidently in america its on Starz, I watch it on amazon prime. You gotta watch it! lol! best thing since sliced bread, or maybe wine....! lol! thanks for reading, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

Hi alicia, yes this program has a fan base probably the best in the world! millions of followers because its so special, not like all the other same old same old programs! well worth catching up on, and you can buy the dvds too! lol! look at me trying to sell it! thanks for reading, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

Short and sweet edgy, but thank you! LOL!

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

Thanks Fiona, yes the fairies were fake, but I do believe there is something that started off the stories of fairies, thanks for reading, nell

Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 2 months ago from Shelton

I must be living in a box.. I've never heard of any of these show..maybe because it is an American British.. I don't know.. but I think I'm going to check them out and see what they have in common.. Nell thank you for the hub and the heads up...:) Frank

always exploring profile image

always exploring 2 months ago from Southern Illinois

LOL, I must be living in a box too. This is all new to me, but I love it. The idea of fairy's being around is charming and comforting. That's the reason I watch The Walton's, a simple time when goodness prevailed.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

Thanks Frank, the show is relatively new, the Cottingley fairies were real history over here in England, it was a fascinating story, thanks so much for reading, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

Hi Ruby, that's it exactly! I used to love the Waltons too, bring back all the good old stuff! great to see you as always, nell

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 2 months ago

I will have to look these up on the BBC channel. As always, your writing is so entertaining and unique.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

Thanks Dianna, this was started in the middle of all the troubles going on, then I put on Outlander and felt much better, then realised thats what we needed, which took me to the Fairies, which was a similar thing, thanks so much as always, nell

Penelope Bucket profile image

Penelope Bucket 2 months ago from Seattle area

Great article and thanks I loved that movie. And I believe in all fairies.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

Hi Penelope, that movie is great isn't it? thanks so much for reading, nell

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

Raymond, keep putting it here, I will keep deleting!!

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 2 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Hi Nell.....Gosh, I love the way you write! This is so fascinating as well as all new to me. Seems I may have heard something about "Outlander," but you have seriously stirred my curiosity and interest!

I'm sure I will love the tale of the "Fairies,"....we all need a bit of fantasy now and then. It's even more fun when we wonder if it could be true or not!

Thanks Nell!......BTW, Who's Raymond? What am I missing girlfriend? Peace, Paula/Effer

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

LOL! raymond is a pain in the butt! he keeps putting spam on here, 'i have earned blah blah etc' every time I get rid of him he comes back like a dirty smell, so! lol! Yes Outlander is amazing, I am totally hooked, more so than any other program ever been on TV! and the cottingley fairies have always fascinated me purely because of the psychological thing around it, how we all believed because we, back then, really needed too, always great to see you! nell

DDE 2 months ago

I loved this story and you told it with so beautifully.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

Thanks so much DDE!

Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 months ago from Wales

How nice it is to be back and able to read interesting hubs like this again. A wonderful read and here's to many more to come.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

Thanks Eddy, great to see you back!

Deb Hirt 2 months ago

Tell Bill that he needs to read Gulliver's Travels, which included The Lilliputians.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 months ago from England Author

Thanks Deb, yes never thought of that! lol!

Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 3 weeks ago from New Jersey

I never heard of the fairies, but got hooked on the Outlander books just in time to read them all before the series came to TV.

Right after that, I had a serious legal situation (false) that my son was accused of, and I think watching Outlander was the last normal thing I did before his luck turned so bad. The situation is slowly moving forward. I hope by Season 3 it will be a memory. But Outlander has helped me a lot and Jamie is hot! I love Claire, and all the characters. It's hard to like Frank after Black Jack, but it shows what a good actor Tobias is.

Take care Nell.

Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 weeks ago from England Author

Thanks Jean, I do know what you mean, when there is something going on in your own life sometimes you need a bit of sanity! hope everything gets better soon, and thanks so much for reading, nell

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    We all need a little magic in our lives sometimes to the point of obsession. Here's why.

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