Tuesday 27 August 2013

The strange story of the Fairy Investigation Society

I've been away for the weekend and was astonished to discover myself quoted in Folklore magazine about the strange disappearance of the Fairy Investigation Society.

Folklore is the academic journal attached to the Folklore Society and the article is by the historian Simon Young, who has carried out the most amazing detective work about the peculiar and, ultimately, underground organisation.

A naval officer and telecoms inventor called Quentin Crauford founded the Society around 1927, designed to promote serious study. Over the years, it managed to attract a number of prominent supporters, including Walt Disney and the Battle of Britain supremo Air Chief Marshal Lord Dowding, whose post-war career was not helped by his public expressions of belief.

But by the 1970s, the Society could stand the cynical public climate no longer and it went underground. In 1990, I wanted to organise a TV documentary about fairies and was given their address - somewhere outside Dublin - by the Folklore Society.  I wrote and had a strange letter back. It was from a man claiming that he knew the society’s secretary, but he said he didn’t want to talk to anybody. 

Not only had the fairies disappeared, but the fairy researchers seemed to have fled as well.

I am fascinated by the unrecorded history of organisations like this, just as I am in the revival of interest in fairies - which the historian Ronald Hutton called the "British religion" - in the early years of this century (and of most centuries, actually).

This is also an excuse to mention my own attempt to put fairies back on the map, with my novel for grown-ups - involving Lord Byron, a missing lover, and the underworld somewhere under Surrey.  Leaves the World to Darkness is now published as an ebook.

I realise this isn't the kind of thing that a hard-headed policy-maker is supposed to write, still less a former Independent Reviewer for the Cabinet Office. But, when all is said and done, we do need to stand up for a bit of magic.


Paul Walter said...

Perhaps the Fairy Investigation Society went to the same place as the Common Cold Unit?

Fairy Investigation Society said...

An interesting and informed article. Due to recent rise of interest in our society, we will be making some of our research publicly available in the near future. Best regards.