A gift that threatens to overwhelm

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Saturday Rumpus editor Michelle Dean writes for the New Yorker about Opal Whiteley, the “once celebrated, then controversial, and now forgotten” 1920s child prodigy and diarist.

“The fantasy of orphanhood is a common one. It is the cornerstone of many cherished novels, from “A Little Princess” to “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” But Opal took it further than most. The fortress of mythology she managed to build is so strong that today it’s still difficult to scale its wall. No one has successfully proven the diary’s authenticity, or lack thereof, nor can anyonef say for sure what exactly Opal’s lineage was.”


Lisa Dusenbery is the former managing editor of The Rumpus. More from this author →