At the time of their origins, fairies were not the winged little Tinkerbells we think of today. They ranged, in fact, from mythical beings, nature spirits and elves to diminished gods and goddesses and even ghosts. None of these creatures commonly had wings, other than the god Apollo and a few mythical creatures like dragons and the pegasus. So how, and why, did fairies get their wings?
It all seems to have started in the Victorian era. At that time, advances in science and the growing population resulted in more people living closer together rather than spread out on distant farms. Social and religious conformity also led to the abandonment of many old legends and pagan-inspired beliefs. It was also a time when the general public took more of an educated interest in the natural world, many taking up the respectable hobbies of bird watching and collecting plants and insects. The cultivation of formal gardens meant a kind of taming of the wilderness, so that wildlife could be viewed from a more controlled setting. In this new atmosphere, old beliefs in fearful spirits that could cause trouble to the farming family or those lost in the wilderness began to subside, and instead, became the stuff of children's tales.