Belief in fairies, in one form or another, is found all over the world, but is strongest among primitive peoples. It is presumably as old as mankind itself, and in Christian communities is one of the surviving relics of paganism.That was a passage I remember well from the 1144-page tome pretentiously entitled, The Great Encyclopædia of Universal Knowledge, apparently published in 1938, and the constant literary companion of my boyhood. Indeed several of the front and rear pages have been seriously damaged from the caresses provided by my childish fingers.
I was only a little boy at the time. That was the first time I had heard that there were people who genuinely believed in fairies. As I grew older, I discovered that a detailed and complex mythology exists regarding fairies, and that during both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries folklorists recorded people who not only believed in fairies, but claimed to have seen them. Of course, it is assumed that they were making it up. Just the same, the folklorist Katherine Briggs included in her 1967 book, The Fairies in Tradition and Literature a chapter 16 entitled, "Fairy encounters and odd experiences". Interestingly, some of them were by people who did not share the tradition and did not expect it. Then there was Fairies, real encounters with little people (1997), in which Janet Bord culled the literature for exactly that. In this blog I myself have published two posts of such odd encounters from different parts of the world. (See here and here.) And at the back of all this, there were rumours of a mysterious organisation called the Fairy Investigation Society, which I could never discover for itself. Well, at last it has made its appearance. I am, of course, referring to Seeing Fairies by Marjorie T. Johnson (Anomalist Books, 2014)