There is no credible evidence that fairies, in the form of small magical beings, are real. However, fairies and stories of fairies may be based on ancient religious beliefs and even real ancient indigenous people.
The belief in fairies probably evolved from beliefs in nature spirits and ancient nature deities, as they are closely associated with natural places and plants. The modern image of the fairy as a tiny winged female was largely shaped by Victorian stories and art, such as the work of Richard Dadd, and by Victorian theosophy.
The fairy's benevolent nature is mostly a 20th-century invention. Earlier fairies could be any size and either sex, and were as likely to harm those they came in contact with as to help.