thinking spring clean
As a child growing up in the forests and logging camps of Oregon at the turn of the century, Opal Whiteley recorded all she saw in a secret diary, using colored pencils on scraps of butcher paper, wrapping paper and backs of envelopes.
Though considered odd by everyone, no one knew she was schizophrenic. Through her heightened senses and a genius for expressing herself, she crafted the most fascinating diary ever written. Opal hid her diary in a hollow log in the woods near her home. But when she was 14, her younger sister found it and tore it to pieces Heartbroken, Opal kept the pieces at a neighbor’s house in a hatbox.
At 23, Opal met Ellery Sedgwick, publisher of the Atlantic Monthly who asked if she had kept a diary as a child. She said that she had, and he asked to see it at once. For months, Opal worked to piece her diary back together, and in 1920, “The Story of Opal” was published. Hailed as a work of genius, it became a national best-seller. But because of its brilliance, people soon began to question if one so young could have written it.
Ten months after its publication, the diary was out of print and Opal was disgraced. People returned their copies and demanded repayment. Accused of literary fraud, Opal left for England. In 1948, she was found rummaging through the rubble of bombed-out buildings during World War II. She was taken to a public mental hospital where she remained until her death on February 16, 1992. http://opalwhiteley.com/