Marjorie T. Johnson (b. Nottingham, England, 24 February 1911; d. Nottingham, England, 26 October 2011)
Marjorie Thelma Johnson was the younger of two daughters of George William Johnson, a solicitor’s clerk, and his wife Ellen Gertrude Johnson. Her sister was Dorothy Alexandra Johnson (1902-1988). Johnson worked professionally as a secretary in a solicitor’s office.
Johnson had seen a fairy first as a six-year-old child, and wrote an account of this visitation (initially omitting the fact that her sister was also a witness, though later accounts correct this) that was published as a letter in John O’London’s Weekly, on 28 March 1936, following a request published on 7 March 1936 for “first-hand accounts of fairies seen in this country,” which brought in over a dozen signed accounts during subsequent months.
In 1950 Johnson become the secretary of a resurrected Fairy Investigation Society, which had originally been founded in 1927 by naval captain Quentin C.A. Craufurd (1875-1957), and though it lasted some years its meetings dwindled out during the war. In 1955 Johnson began putting together a book of first hand encounters with fairies which she called Fairy Visions, and she was assisted by Alastair Alpin MacGregor (1899-1970) who published letters in The Listener and Folklore soliciting further accounts. MacGregor dedicated his Ghost Book (1955) to Johnson, yet withdrew from the project a few years later as he wanted to go abroad and Johnson wanted to press forward with publication. Around this time Craufurd wrote a foreword for the unfinished book.
On 23 October 1960 The Sunday Pictorial, a London tabloid, published an article “She Does a ‘Kinsey’ on Fairies . . . ,” by Tom Riley, which traduced Johnson and her beliefs by highlighting her comments about the sex lives of fairies, claiming falsely that her entire book was on fairy sex. Johnson published a letter in The Sunday Pictorial disassociating herself from the article, because of which she and her sister had been plagued by sensation-seeking journalists. Johnson soon withdrew from an active role in the Society. The work on her book continued, though it was delayed by family health concerns and her own professional obligations.
In 1996 Johnson finished the final draft of her book, now retitled Seeing Fairies: Authentic Reports of Fairies in Modern Times, A Book for Grownups. Leslie Shepard (1917-2004), who had run the Fairy Investigation Society for some years, helped her to try to find a publisher, though they were long without success, at least among English-language publishers. The book first appeared in German translation as Naturgeister: wahre Erlebniss mit Elfen und Zwergen [Nature Spirits: True Experiences with Elves and Dwarfs] in 2000. Two further translations appeared in 2004, in Czech as Přírodni duchové [Nature Spirits] and in Italian as Il popolo del bosco [The Forest People]. Johnson died in 2011 at the age of 100. Her book finally appeared in English (in the United States) three years later as Seeing Fairies: From the Lost Archives of the Fairy Investigation Society, Authentic Reports of Fairies in Modern Time (San Antonio, Anomalist Books, 2014), with an introduction by Simon Young. The cover photograph shows Marjorie Johnson playing a bamboo pipe in 1934.
Johnson apparently also self-published, in association with the Nottingham Writers Society and the Gypsy Lore Society, a booklet Gypsy & Fairy Lore & Children’s Verse (date unknown), but no copies are currently known to have survived.