Meet Fairyologist Jonathan Wright Author of "Who's Behind the Fairy Doors?" After Story Time

Feb 16 2013 11:30 am

From Jonathan Wright's Fairyology Website -

Who am I and what am I doing here? 

I am Jonathan b. Wright, a life long resident of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The following is a true story which gives a bit of history of the Urban Fairies. 

An Urban Fairy Tale

In a transient town such as Ann Arbor, it often seems that the concept of a “local” Ann Arborite is a fairytale. This is a true tale. I was born and raised here. I even met my wife at the University of Michigan. Our fairytale home on the Old West Side came as a wonderful backdrop for a child’s story. At over 100 years old, the floors creaked. Actually, the floors tipped. The center rooms of the house changed elevation by about 2 inches for every 4 feet. Though the Historic Commission deemed there to be “no historical significance” to our home, we began repairing, renovating and expanding it. 

With each new home improvement there appeared a surprise. As part of that expansion, I put in a closet door under the stairs and adjacent to it, a child-size one to access the wedge of space there. Just to the right of the junior door, down in the baseboard, kids discovered yet another door about 6 inches high. When it was open, one could see an equally small staircase and railing leading up to a second door. The upper door, as far as we know, is always locked. Children were fascinated and would report their sightings, including that of a Lion-Mouse! 

After I built our fireplace, our daughters discovered one more door. It opened onto a room with its own tiny fireplace, and a curving stairway leading to a balcony sporting a door. There was yet another door leading off of the first room, which when opened, revealed a landing and a checkered floor beyond. A small window looked into the space from the end of the mantel. On some days, a light goes on in the far room. The day of the discovery our youngest, Delaney, shouted, “Look, it’s their trash day!” and held up a transparent plastic bag filled with sawdust and other diminutive construction waste. Our eldest, Samuelina, made an ingenious probe of two pick-up-sticks and a keychain light bound with rubber bands to explore the depths. 

At the time our kitchen was remodeled, it was less surprising that a Lilliputian room was found below one of the new columns. This was a room with a double hung window giving a view of our breakfast area. In the room, there was a wee black chair with a red cushion, matching our human sized ones. Again, this room had another door leading to some unknown chamber, hall or space. 

Recently, I heard muffled noises in the gabled end of the breakfast area. Squirrels? Mice? Birds? Super-chubby-sewer-dwelling Raccoons? I don’t think so. I am keeping my eyes peeled for Urban Fairies. 

It’s all about building homes. 


Who's Behind the Fairy Door? can be purchased at Nicola's Books

 Urban fairy doors are a phenomenon that began in Ann Arbor, Michigan about twenty years ago, when the author and his family purchased a 100-year-old house. In the process of renovating the home, fairy doors—little entrances, some of them quite elaborate—began appearing, first under the staircase, then beside the newly-built fireplace, and later in the kitchen and breakfast room. Since that time, the fairy doors have spread throughout Ann Arbor’s business district and can be found at Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea, The Peaceable Kingdom, Google headquarters, the Ann Arbor District Library, and at the new C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital at the University of Michigan. The phenomenon has spread outside Ann Arbor and has garnered international attention. For more about the fairy doors visit the Urban Fairies Operations website, or their Facebook page.

Wright began keeping record of the doors that appeared and placed journals at the sight of each fairy door for kids and adults to write and draw about the urban fairies. He selected some drawings from the journals, augmented them, and compiled them into this delightful hardcover book.

On each left-hand page of the book is a reproduction of an original drawing of a fairy. On the corresponding right-hand page is the author’s version with commentary. Fairy-watchers around Ann Arbor have spotted a wide variety of urban fairies, ranging from the Flapper Fairy (who dresses like a girl from the 1920s and has very small wings, which requires her to flap vigorously to become airborne), to the Fairy Farmer (who wears overalls and stiletto heels, presumably to help aerate the soil).

“Who’s Behind the Fairy Doors?” is clever, witty, and sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. It’s a pleasure for fairy fans of all ages, and makes a great gift. (from

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