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.

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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.

Submitted by Sharif Tayyebi on Sun, 19/07/2020 - 12:57

There aren't any story which is written in my country or actually I don't know the exact one. But I can remember that my grandparents and some people who lived in our village believed on ghosts and fairies. Sometimes they talked about. For example, my grandfather's uncle who died when he was working on his farm at night, our grandmother and many others believed that he was hitting by ghosts. Nowadys, people don't believe on ghosts or fairies. Especially young people who are educated think that these ideas are mostly wrong. Thanks, Tayyebi

Submitted by antinaoki on Mon, 13/07/2020 - 03:36

i dont know any fairly tales in japanese culture,but there are lot of horror ghosts tales in japanese history. Like the ghosts in the old house,or the ghosts of the dead people in some places some accidents occured.

Submitted by Austin on Sat, 27/06/2020 - 08:52

In my Chinese culture, we have a little magical god who can control the land, almost everyone in their house front door will have a little board for them to get their blessing, they look like a tiny old man with a long white beard holding a wand.

Submitted by syah on Tue, 02/06/2020 - 08:32

I don't really know, is there any story about fairy in my culture or not. But I know fairy tales from narrative text or film. The fairies in the stories like fairy as usual, they have wings, they are very beautiful, some of them is kind. I think fairy just can be a story that can entertain us and give us soma lessons.

Submitted by Stela Stoycheva on Mon, 01/06/2020 - 15:39

In my culture fairies, they are in children mind, stories, movies...But when I look or read something for fairies, I want ti be fairy :) In my country we have Fairy Teeth :)

Submitted by DW on Wed, 06/05/2020 - 09:09

There are many magical people in my culture. But it is hard for me to find one who is small in size! Maybe, let me introduce “Nuwa”(女娲) to all of you. In Chinese traditional, there is a god called Nuwa. She made human by yellow clay. She created musical instrument. And she used stone to repair the sky and saved all living creatures. People called her the mother of the land.

Submitted by manemusayelyan on Sat, 02/05/2020 - 10:33

Hi everyone. First of all i think the reason of stories about fairies or other similar magical creatures in many cultures is to make this world more magical especially for children. In my country-in Armenia there is one famouse traditional hero from national epic called David of Sasun. He drove Arab invaders out of Armenia and had magic forse. David is hero for some children and even for teenagers and adults.