When the newspapers picked up on the story, Doyle was on a trip to Australia so Gardner took the flak from Journalists. It soon came out that the girls took three more photos in the 1920’s. One looked like a fairy offering a flower to Elsie, while another depicted a “fairy bower” in a tree, described as an ectoplasmic like figure. The third fairy was captured leaping into the air. Sir Arthur asked the Eastman Kodak laboratories for an opinion of the photographs. While waiting for the results to come back he published an article about the fairies in the Strand Christmas magazine of 1920. The magazine was immediately deluged by numerous photographs of fairies. But not one of them matched the “purity” of the Cottingley photographs. He decided write a book detailing the whole affair called, The Coming of the Fairies.
In the 1980’s the two women admitted that the four of the photographs were faked. They didn’t tell Sir Arthur at the time as they felt he was so nice to them that they didn’t want to upset him. The whole episode got out of hand and they were shocked at how quickly events unfolded out of their control. The girls faked the photos as way of getting back at the people who didn’t believe them and teased them about the fairies. Between them they agreed that one day they would tell the truth, but not until all the main people involved had died.
Looking at these pictures today you can see that they look like fakes. Sir Arthur and millions of others as well, were totally taken in by the hoaxed photos. If he had doubts about the validity of the photos later on, he kept quiet about it. He would never have confronted the two girls about faking the photographs as he was such an honourable and spiritual person. He understood that we have so much that we don’t know about, which is as true today as it was then. I am sure he believed in the existence of fairies whether the girl’s photographs were real or not. However, there is a twist to this amazing story. The girls admitted that most of the photos were fakes, but Frances went to her grave adamant that one of them, the fifth photo was REAL, and both of the girls always said that they had actually seen fairies playing in the woods near the beck. There was one independent witness who backed up the girls claims he was a writer called Geoffrey L. Hodson. He later testified that he had seen the fairies himself and confirmed the details of the girl’s observations in all details. However, as with all paranormal events it is capturing one of them on a photograph that was always the most difficult part.
Proof, Proof, Proof. Everyone wants evidence of life after death, which is very understandable. Conan Doyle was lucky to have his proofs given to him but he had to wait till late in his life before they came. Once he had been given his proof, he believed from then on with absolute conviction that there was life after death. In the early 1920’s, Conan Doyle struck up strange friendship with Harry Houdini, one of the worlds greatest magicians; in this there is no doubt. Houdini’s attitude was completely opposite to Sir Arthur’s, he didn’t believe in life after death. Doyle and Houdini wrote to each other over many years each trying to persuade each other that their own position was erroneous. Neither man would budge on their opinion. Houdini and Doyle together exposed a lot of mediums who were faking their phenomena, but Houdini, as Sir Arthur believed, damaged genuine mediums in the process for the simple reason that Houdini thought everyone of them was like him, a con artist with magic tricks at their disposal. A trick is a con, or an illusion; if you like. He was brilliant at his art, and so he believed that spiritualism was based along similar lines of illusion. Although he investigated hundreds of mediums, and had one of the largest psychic libraries around, he could not find one piece of evidence of proof. This negativity eventually caused a rift in the “friendship” between Conan Doyle and Houdini. After his mother died, who he absolutely adored, Lady Jean Doyle gave him messages through automatic writing from his mother, but he disregarded them. He was totally sceptical and remained so until he died in 1926.
Today we have a similar problem in that no matter how many times a spirit is captured on film, you will have people decrying its validity and asking for proof. Undoubtedly, there were some frauds, but the more we investigate and enquire, the more questions are left unanswered. No matter what happens, at the end of the day the message of spirit is still carried forward. Do fairies exist? Do nature spirits exist? I know they exist, as I have seen them with my own eyes. Both fairies and nature spirits are as real as anybody living in the physical world. Everything around us is filled with life force, even the smallest amoeba or the brightest flower. All have the infinite beauty and life force of spirit. The earth and nature spirits surround us everywhere. If you have the eyes to see them and the ability to open your mind and quicken your vibration, you can see the wonderful colours of the trees, the flowers, the water, the earth, and the very air itself, all resonating in wonderful colours and sounds. We are surrounded with life that is beyond our normal frequency of sight and sound. With the advances in science maybe we will start to detect what mediums sense and it will be another provable fact. Hidden from us we have a wonderful galaxy of beings who are trying to express themselves in this sometimes beautiful sphere we call earth.
There was constant travel for Doyle during the 1920s. He went to Australia in 1920 and twice to America and Canada in 1922 and 1923.
In 1922 while on his tour of America, Conan Doyle reluctantly accepted an invitation by Harry Houdini to attend the annual meeting of the Society of American Magicians as an honoured guest. Sir Arthur was suspicious at first and fearful that he might be exposed to ridicule over his spiritualist beliefs. Houdini reassured him all would be fine and he accepted the invitation. The gathering was held at the Hotel McAlpin and Conan Doyle had prepared in advance his own “trick” which went down an absolute storm. As he mounted the stage he had prepared a short film to show those attending that everything they knew about life was not actually what it seemed. Before the film was shown, he told the audience that he would answer no questions about the film afterwards. He said, "These pictures are not occult, but they are psychic because everything that emanates from the human spirit or human brain is psychic. It is not supernatural; nothing is. It is preternatural in the sense that it is not known to our ordinary senses. It is the effect of the joining on the one hand of imagination, and on the other hand of some power of materialization. The imagination, I may say, comes from me-the materializing power from elsewhere."