Clap if you believe in fairies! The Victorians did, writes Carole Silver in Strange and Secret Peoples: Fairies and Victorian Consciousness, but she's not exactly talking about Tinkerbell here. Silver prefers the more gruesome and treacherous species of fay: changelings and vampires, brownies and goblins. The Victorians took these creatures very seriously, indeed, and according to Silver, this belief tapped into some of their society's most fundamental anxieties. Fear of physical deformity, of women's sexual power, of racial or class difference: these were the true bogeymen that haunted the Victorian imagination, and they responded with a flood of art, literature, and theater that portrayed these imaginary creatures with equal measures of fascination and horror. Silver even argues that many if not most Victorians believed in the actual physical existence of fairies, citing contemporary news accounts as her evidence. Why fairies? Creatures of the imagination and of the rural past, they offered refuge from an increasingly mechanized and empirical age. More ominously, they also provided expression for some of an imperialist nation's nastier beliefs, embodied in figures from Dr. Jekyll to Snow White's dwarves. Exhaustively researched and engagingly written, Strange and Secret Peoples is an original look at the complexities and contradictions of Victorian culture.