The legend of fairies

The legend of fairies

Read a text about the legend of fairies to practise and improve your reading skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then read the text and do the exercises.


Reading text

(1) Fairies today are the stuff of children's stories, little magical people with wings, often shining with light. Typically pretty and female, like Tinkerbell in Peter Pan, they usually use their magic to do small things and are mostly friendly to humans.

(2) We owe many of our modern ideas about fairies to Shakespeare and stories from the 18th and 19th centuries. Although we can see the origins of fairies as far back as the Ancient Greeks, we can see similar creatures in many cultures. The earliest fairy-like creatures can be found in the Greek idea that trees and rivers had spirits called dryads and nymphs. Some people think these creatures were originally the gods of earlier, pagan religions that worshipped nature. They were replaced by the Greek and Roman gods, and then later by the Christian God, and became smaller, less powerful figures as they lost importance.

(3) Another explanation suggests the origin of fairies is a memory of real people, not spirits. So, for example, when tribes with metal weapons invaded land where people only used stone weapons, some of the people escaped and hid in forests and caves. Further support for this idea is that fairies were thought to be afraid of iron and could not touch it. Living outside of society, the hiding people probably stole food and attacked villages. This might explain why fairies were often described as playing tricks on humans. Hundreds of years ago, people actually believed that fairies stole new babies and replaced them with a 'changeling' – a fairy baby – or that they took new mothers and made them feed fairy babies with their milk.

(4) While most people no longer believe in fairies, only a hundred years ago some people were very willing to think they might exist. In 1917, 16-year-old Elsie Wright took two photos of her cousin, nine-year-old Frances Griffiths, sitting with fairies. Some photography experts thought they were fake, while others weren't sure. But Arthur Conan Doyle, the writer of the Sherlock Holmes detective stories, believed they were real. He published the original pictures, and three more the girls took for him, in a magazine called The Strand, in 1920. The girls only admitted the photos were fake years later in 1983, created using pictures of dancers that Elsie copied from a book.

Task 1

Task 2


Worksheet66.79 KB

Language level

Average: 4 (63 votes)

Submitted by Nanami on Mon, 17/08/2020 - 06:21

In Japan, there is a TV animation for children called "Purikyua". This is a story of teenage girl students changing of appearance and using magic to fight against the bad guys. Girls never do bad things. They have the courage and keep fighting. I often watched it when I was a child. This show has many fans and has been made movies. But I haven't heard any other magic people. Fairies that appear in the stories of foreign countries are considered pretty and gentle. On the other hand, goblins that appear in Japanese stories are considered be afraid. I wish I could see more fairies with beautiful appearance and mental in Japan!

Submitted by Y on Sun, 16/08/2020 - 16:51

I haven’t heard stories of little magical people in Japan. However, Japanese youkai called Zashiki-Warashi is believed in Japan. It is generally said that children with bobbed hair and red face. There are both boys and girls around 5 years old. There is no unfortunate thing when you see Zashiki-Warashi. In Japan,many people believe that good luck visits you when you see the Zashiki-warashi. So recently, some people stay at Japanese hotel where Zashiki-Warashi often appears. I haven't seen it yet. I wanna see it sometime.If you have a chance, please search it!!

Submitted by Osuke on Sat, 15/08/2020 - 10:53

I don’t think there are fairies in Japan. However, it has long been believed that there are “Yokai” in Japan. It’s kind of a ghost. But It’s a little different from a ghost. Ghost is a figure of dead person who is unable to go to heaven because of the regret and resentment of this world. On the other hand, Yokai are eerie creatures that cause strange phenomenon that exceed human intelligence. Demon, Kappa, and Tengu are the three major Yokai in Japan. Recently, demons s are often used in Japanese comics. For example, The promised Neverland or Demon Slayer. I think there are many people who already know it, but I want you to read it because it is very interesting.

Submitted by yusuke on Sat, 08/08/2020 - 16:04

I think there is no creatures kind of fairy in Japanese culture. However in my culture, there are many kind of gods. They have their own part, and they are usually in temples, I guess. They are sometimes found in game characters. So, in Japan, even young people have some knowledge about them.

Submitted by ryota on Fri, 07/08/2020 - 16:49

I think there aren’t stories of little magical people in Japanese culture. Japan had never had the concept of magic like fairy since ancient times. But there are fantasy creatures like fairy in Japan. It is “Yokai”. It is said that they have existed since ancient times and there are many kinds of yokai and superstitions. Some of them make people happy. On the other hand, some of them scare people. They are very popular among the Japanese. Not long ago, anime with yokai motif became popular in Japan. They are now one of a Japanese culture. I like it too.

Submitted by naru on Fri, 07/08/2020 - 03:46

Probably there're nothing story of little magical people like "fairy" in Japan. But we believe in one mysterious existance that resembles faires. That's name is "zashiki warasi" in Japanease. This is kind of a supernatural monstor and ghost of a little girl living in an old house. It is believed that this exsitance brings happiness. If you are interested, please check it out.
Profile picture for user Hennadii

Submitted by Hennadii on Thu, 06/08/2020 - 10:43

We have our own ancient pre christian myths with your authentic "fairies". Most of them were natural creatures living in the forest or in the water. Some of them were kind but some were severe. Our ancestors believed in them trying to placate evil spirits with gifts. The creature most similar to the fairy in our old religion was, I think, domovoy - a house spirit. Who helped people if they were kind to him but he could smut them if they didn't. He obviously had just a small power and couldn't be compared with our main gods but some of the habits of how not to provoke your domovoy are still with us. Some people leaving their house before the long journey (vacation, for example) sit in silence in the hall to pretend they aren't going anywhere so that domovoy does not take offense.

Submitted by Riko on Tue, 04/08/2020 - 12:50

In my country, we don't have any fairies culture. However, many people believe that ghosts and "Yokai" rather than fairies in Japan. There are days for our ancestors like "Obon". In this days, the souls of our ancestors come back home. So we have to clean their grave.

Submitted by Ayaka on Mon, 03/08/2020 - 07:45

I have never heard the story of fairies in Japan. And I didn’t know two photos taken by Elsie Wright. I don’t really believe in fairies or ghosts in Japan. In other words, ghosts are scary and don’t want to believe them. Therefore, I have decided that I will never watch scary stories that are often broadcast in Japan. Fortunately, no one in my family wants to watch it. Now that Japan is in the summer, and there are more such programs, I have to be careful not to accidentally change channels to it. I hope to enjoy other channels this summer as well.

Submitted by Wakana M on Mon, 03/08/2020 - 06:30

I don’t know any fairies in Japanese culture. But there are a lot of apparition in Japanese history. They appear in many stories. They called “Yokai“ in Japanese. They are a class of supernatural monsters, spirits, ghost and demons. They often possess animal features. Such as the kappa, which looks similar to a turtle, or the tengu, which has wings, and others appear mostly human like kuchisake-onna etc. Nowadays, they have been featured in anime and become familiar to children. They used to have a big scary image in the past, but now they are loved as characters.