The Case of the Trick Photographs

You might think that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the writer who invented Sherlock Holmes, the most logical of detectives, would have harbored strictly logical beliefs himself. But the author entertained a variety of fanciful ideas, including a belief in the mythical beings known as fairies. Since (46)that belief, he was fooled in 1920 by two schoolgirl cousins.(47) One day, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths returned from a walk in the English countryside with news that they
had seen fairies. They had even taken photographs that showed several of the tiny sprites, some dancing in a ring
in the grass, some fluttering in front of the girl’s faces.(48)

Many people were excited when they heard about this seemingly true and factual (49)proof of the existence of fairies, but Conan Doyle was more excited than most. To make sure that he wasn’t being deceived, Conan Doyle had the original photographic plates examined by experts, however, they (50)found no evidence of double exposures. He then wrote an enthusiastic article for Strand magazine, being the place in which (51)most of his Sherlock Holmes stories had first appeared, and later wrote a book on the subject titled The Coming of the Fairies.Conan Doyle sent a copy of one of the photographs to his friend Harry Houdini, the famous magician and escape artist. Houdini, who devoted considerable effort to exposing hoaxes involving spiritualism and was (52)skeptical about the existence of supernatural beings.(53)

When Houdini remained unconvinced by the evidence, Conan Doyle became angry. Though the two remained cordial, but (54)their friendship was damaged due to the fact that they had the (55)disagreement. Some (56)sixty years later, an elderly Frances Griffiths publicly admitted that her and her cousin (57)had staged the photographs as a practical joke. Shortly after her revelation, computer enhancement revealed the hatpins that were used (58)to prop up the cardboard-cutout fairies. Scientific analysis, since photography was a new art, (59)finally closed the Case of the Trick Photographs.


Question 60 asks about the preceding passage as a whole.

60. Suppose the writer had decided to write an essay that summarizes how beliefs in the supernatural have influenced the writing of famous authors. Would this essay
fulfill the writer’s goal?

  • F. Yes, because the essay makes the point that Conan
    Doyle’s belief in fairies clearly influenced his
    Sherlock Holmes stories.

  • G. Yes, because the essay indicates that Conan
    Doyle’s disagreement with Houdini motivated him
    to write about the supernatural.

  • H. No, because the essay argues that the author’s
    belief in fairies and the supernatural did not in any
    way affect his writing.

  • J. No, because the essay limits its focus to the particular events surrounding one author’s reaction to
    evidence of the supernatural.