Henry Darger (04.12.1892 -04.13.1973)

I wonder if Henry purposely waited a day past his birthday to die?  In any case Mr. Darger’s story is a strange and interesting one.  He was a reclusive American writer and artist who worked as a custodian in Chicago, Illinois.  He has become famous for his posthumously discovered 15,145-page, single-spaced fantasy manuscript called The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, along with several hundred drawings and watercolor paintings illustrating the story.  Darger’s work has become one of the most celebrated examples of outsider art. (via his Wiki) -Or you can read the summary of his life below.

Henry-Darger- empty kingdom collage girl blengin

Henry-Darger- empty kingdom

Henry-Darger- empty kingdom


Henry Darger was born in Chicago in 1892, the exact date is not known. His mother died giving birth to his sister when he was 4 years old. The little girl was given up for adoption and Henry never knew he had a sister. His father, a gentle man, lived with him until 1900, when he had to be taken to an hospice for poor because of his health. Henry was taken to an orphanage, but he was soon institutionalized because of his behavior. In the asylum forced labor and severe punishment were common practices, and Harry’s attitude was such that he was often disciplined by the teachers and mistreated by his classmates. In 1905, while he was there, he received the news that his father died. He tried multiple time to escape, finally succeeding in 1908.

He reached Chicago and found a menial employment in a catholic hospital, that allowed him to support himself until retirement in 1963. His whole life was simple and lonely: he worked, attended mass, he was poorly dressed, although he tried to keep his dress clean. He lived in the same room for most of his life. He had only one friend, William Shloder, with which he shared the dream of founding an institution aimed provide loving and caring families to abused children. Henry Darger tried many times in his life to adopt a child, but he never succeeded. In 1973 Henry Darger died in the same poor house where his father had died in 1905.

It was at that time that his landlord discovered the amazing secret of Henry Danger. In his room was found “In the Realm s of the Unreal”, a 15 volumes, single spaced manuscript, 15145 page long. The text is accompanied by 3 volumes of illustrations, drawn over 6 decades. In addition, in the room were found a 8 volumes, 5084 page long autobiography, many assorted diaries, and a second work of fiction of over 10000 handwritten pages, about ten volumes. Everything was richly illustrated with hundreds of drawings and watercolor painting.

“In the realms of the unreal” was inspired by the death of Elsie Paroubek, a 5 years old child disappeared and found strangled a month later. “The story of the Vivian Girls, in what is known the Realm of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnioan war storm, caused by the children slave rebellion” was the full title of the manuscript, telling the saga on how the Vivian Girls came to help after the shocking assassination of a child labor rebel, igniting a war against the godless Glandelinian. In the book, Darger declares “the children’s right to play, to be happy, and to dream, the right to normal sleep in night’s season, the right to an education, that we may have an equal opportunity for developing all that are in us of mind and heart“. -Via artsediments