The Haunted Boy
Recently I have seen for sale in Adelaide several the old allegedly cursed “Haunting Boy” paintings, so I thought why not write about that, and get to the bottom of the legend!?
In 1985, ‘The Sun’, a very popular tabloid newspaper in England, published a story in its September 4th edition (page 13) with the Headline “Blazing Curse of the Crying Boy”. The story that followed told how, after a fire burnt their South Yorkshire’s home to the ground, married couple Ron and May Hall put the blame squarely on a picture of a crying boy they had hung in their home.
A fire broke out from an overheated frypan of oil and devastated the home they had lived in for 27 years, the house was a mess, and one of the only things unscathed in the fire was a picture of crying toddler, hanging on a wall. Ron’s brother Peter, was a local fire-fighter, his Fire Station leader, Mr Alan Wilkinson said he had heard of numerous cases of fires where prints of “crying boys” would be undamaged in a devastating house fires, this of course turned a mundane ‘hot chip’ fire story into a leading headline, and propelled the “Crying Boy” curse into the world spotlight.
The story picked up legs in the next day’s edition, when The Sun reported that readers had been phoning in with their own horrifying stories of bad luck related to The Crying Boy paintings. Quotes were printed in the newspaper such as this one from Dora Mann in Surrey “All my paintings were destroyed – except the one of The Crying Boy”.
A Mr Parks claimed he had destroyed his copy after returning from the hospital from smoke inhalation from his house burning down, to find the only thing untouched in the scorched ruins was a crying boy painting.
More stories accumulated, about misadventures happening to residents in houses where the prints hung. One lady even speculated that the painting may have been the cause for her husband and three sons dying over a span of a few years.
A security guard named Paul Collier threw one of his two prints on a bonfire to test the theory that the paintings and prints would not burn, he claimed that after an hour in the flames, the painting was not even scorched, this of course led to even more sales for The Sun!
Strangely, not all the prints and paintings were of the same crying boy, paintings by Giovanni Bragolin and Scottish artist Anna Zinkeisen became associated with the Curse. Zinkeisen had released her crying boy paintings as part of a study titled “Childhood”.
After some time (and a lot of newspaper sales) it emerged that Alan Wilkinson had personally logged about 50 “Crying Boy fires dating back to 1973”. He had dismissed any supernatural connection between the fires and the paintings, finding that in almost every case, it was human error, or human carelessness that had started the fire. He could not explain though, why the paintings would survive the fires unscathed.
As the original sun newspaper story began to fade from readers’ minds, the story of the Crying Boy paintings morphed into an urban legend and spread across the world. Along the way new information was added to the original legend; psychics claimed a spirit was trapped in the original painting, and the fires were an attempt to free itself. Other stories told how the artist’s bad luck had cursed the painting, and that’s why so many bad things happened in its presence.
The Crying Boy legend is still very much alive today, recently shown on the new TV series “Cursed”. If one looks hard enough one can find enough evidence to suggest that this whole urban legend is an exaggerated coincidence designed by The Sun Newspaper back in 1985 to sell newspapers, now it has become part of urban legend and pop-culture.
|Anna Zinkeisen’s version of the crying boy|
Allen Tiller is Australia’s most recognised paranormal investigator, eminent paranormal historian, and star of the international smash hit television show “Haunting: Australia”.
Allen is also the founder of Eidolon Paranormal, South Australian Paranormal and the author of book and blog, “The Haunts of Adelaide: History, Mystery and the Paranormal”.
Allen was awarded the 2017 “Emerging South Australian Historian of The Year Award” as presented by The History Council of South Australia.
Allen has also been employed as “Historian in Residence” in 2016/2017 with the Adelaide City Council Libraries and employed by the City of Port Adelaide Enfield Council to write the
popular, “Ghosts of the Port Self Guided Walking Tour”
First published in MEGAscene Issue 8 2016