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What happens when adults believe children's fairy stories?

The love and loss felt by the characters is intimately conveyed - we understand their need for connection.  Is this why Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was compelled to trust what he saw in Cottingley? 

Conan Doyle was invested in an idea - the fairies offered him the chance to feel justified in his belief.  Do we all yearn for the proof of our hope to help us have the courage in our convictions?

Ali Harper sings 'If You're There'

The history

In 1917, two children claimed to their parents that they played with fairies down by the stream.  With childish obstinance they determined to prove their claim, and took photographs as proof.

When the photos were developed and showed the children surrounded by fairies and gnomes not all quite believed it, but no one could explain it either.


Three years later the photos came to the attention of Conan Doyle.  Despite scrutiny from experts, the photos could still not be explained and seemed to offer the famous author the proof of his convictions - that there was more to the world than we understood.  

He wrote of his findings in an article published in Strand Magazine in December 1920.

The children grew up, but for decades conspiracy theories raged and the children never admitted any deception until 1983. Even then, the younger of the two children firmly claimed the very last photo was absolutely authentic.

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The music

Although not a believer in fairies, the intriguing story inspired Paul Graham Brown to write this stunning new work.


He has created beautiful songs and music evoking the longing that inspires the grown ups to grasp for the hope that the fairy photographs seem to offer.

Incredibly the fairies continue to reach through time and space to create mystery and wonder.

In March 2024, our director Louise Glossop walked past a window displaying white hydrangeas in Christchurch when she stopped suddenly.  The flowers were the very ones she sought for the world premiere production of the Fairystories musical.

As she approached the counter with them in hand, Louise's eyes were drawn down into the glass cabinet below and spied a fragment of the spine of a book.  Something made her ask to view it...

This turned out to be an original copy of the very book that both the Cottingley children and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had held in their hands in the 1920s!  Produced to raise money for charity by Princess Mary it contained the illustrations that the children had copied to make the fairy cutouts in the photographs.  Truly amazing.


See this original "Princess Mary's Gift Book" at our world premiere in April.

Recent sightings

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