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"I Have Convinced Myself": The Cottingley Fairies and the Desire to Believe

In 1917, two young cousins borrowed a camera to take photographs of the fairies that they claimed appeared near a small stream where they liked to play. The resulting prints would become an international sensation, drawing in Spiritualists, skeptics, Kodak technicians, and one of the era's most famous writers.

What motivated the creation of these images? And what made them so compelling that the British Journal of Photography would publish a ten-part exposé on them decades later, in 1983?

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