In 1983, the cousins admitted in an article published in the magazine The Unexplained that the photographs had been faked, although both maintained that they really had seen fairies. Elsie had copied illustrations of fairies from a popular children's book of the time, Claude Arthur Shepperson's Princess Mary's Gift Book, published in 1914. They said they had then cut out the cardboard figures and supported them with hat pins, disposing of their props in the beck once the photograph had been taken. The cousins did, however, disagree about the fifth and final photograph, which Conan Doyle, in his The Coming of the Fairies, described in this way:
Seated on the upper left hand edge with wing well displayed is an undraped fairy apparently considering whether it is time to get up. An earlier riser of more mature age is seen on the right possessing abundant hair and wonderful wings. Her slightly denser body can be glimpsed within her fairy dress.
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