A Quick Look at Cottage Grove

Opal Whiteley

Was Opal a mystic or was she mad? In 1915, Opal was a magnetic teacher and youth leader, blending science and faith in lectures to thousands. In 1920, her childhood diary, Opal, the Journal of an Understanding Heart was the #2 best-seller in the USA and was read by presidents and kings. She claimed she was orphaned and taken to Oregon where she was abused and spent years living in the woods. She became a major international success at the young age of 22, but just a year later her book was out of print. Opal was accused of fraud for lying about her story. Disgraced, Opal went abroad to India and Europe to prove her origins. She never found her blood family and she never returned to Oregon.

Opal Whiteley’s beautiful writings about nature, God, and children gathered dust for decades while she spent time in an English mental hospital. She died there in 1992 and her work and writings were forgotten. After some time, Opal’s book caught the attention of Benjamin Hoff, author of the Tao of Pooh. Hoff spent years researching Opal’s life and much of her diary was found to be true. Explore the mystery of Opal Whitely by clicking below.