I was browsing the New York Times website when I came across an article from a few days ago on the death of Geoffrey Crawley — the man who in the 1980’s proved that the photographs of the Cottingley faeries was a hoax.
I know we briefly discussed this hoax before, as it is relevant to how photographs were used to display the “truth”. Also, Arthur Conan Doyle firmly believed that the images were real.
If anyone should have known better, it was he: a trained physician, he had created the single most rational figure in Western literature and was a skilled amateur photographer.
But Mr. Conan Doyle was also an ardent spiritualist, an interest amplified by his son’s death in World War I. Recruited by Mr. Gardner, Mr. Conan Doyle soon became an impassioned champion of the photos.
He later wrote a book, “The Coming of the Fairies,” defending the images.
I also find it interesting that he was a photographic scientist, and applied to photographs (art) a scientific mind:
In a telephone interview on Thursday, Colin Harding, curator of photographic technology at the National Media Museum in Bradford, England, discussed Mr. Crawley’s role in the debunking of the Cottingley fairies case: “He took a scientific and analytical approach that was objective to something that had been previously subjective and so full of emotion,” he said.
His writings about the hoax, though rigorously scientific, display great tenderness toward the two country girls whose idle boast of seeing magical creatures captivated a nation convulsed by war and modernity.
Mr. Crawley passed away October 29 at the age of 83.