Opal Whiteley (1897-1992)

Death: 17th February 1992
Location: Highgate Cemetery (East), London, England
Photo taken by: DeadGoodBooks
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American nature writer and diarist whose childhood journal was first published in 1920 as The Story of Opal in serialized form in the Atlantic Monthly, then later that same year as a book with the title The Story of Opal: The Journal of an Understanding Heart.
Whiteley's true origins and the veracity of her diary were disputed during her lifetime, and continue to be questioned today.
Whiteley claimed to be the daughter of Henri, Prince of Orléans, who died unmarried in 1901. According to Whiteley, she was taken to Oregon in 1904 and adopted by Ed and Lizzie Whiteley. While Opal Whiteley used several names during her lifetime, the one she preferred and was later buried under was Françoise Marie de Bourbon-Orléans.
She settled in London where she suffered a head injury during the Blitz and was committed to a psychiatric hospital. Whiteley was known to the staff at the hospital as "the Princess," and visitors remarked that she actually behaved like one. Whiteley remained at the hospital until her death. Her gravestone bears both her names with the inscription: "I spake as a child".