Henry Joseph Darger, Jr. (April 12(?), 1892–April 13, 1973) was a reclusive American writer and artist who worked as a janitor 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.
n the Realms of the Unreal
Darger's work contains many religious themes, albeit handled extremely idiosyncratically. In the Realms of the Unreal postulates a large planet around which Earth orbits as a moon and where most people are Christian (mostly Catholic). The majority of the story concerns the adventures of the daughters of Robert Vivian, seven sisters who are princesses of the Christian nation of Abbieannia and who assist a daring rebellion against the evil John Manley's regime of child slavery imposed by the Glandelinians. The latter resemble Confederate soldiers from the American Civil War. (Darger, like his father, was a Civil War expert.) Children take up arms in their own defense and are often slain in battle or viciously tortured by the Glandelinian overlords. The elaborate mythology also includes a species called the "Blengigomeneans" (or Blengins for short), gigantic winged beings with curved horns who occasionally take human or part-human form, even disguising themselves as children. They are usually (but not always) benevolent; some Blengins are extremely suspicious of all humans, due to Glandelinian atrocities.
In the Realms of the Unreal includes The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinian War Storm Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion, and extends over 15 immense, densely-typed volumes of 15,145 total pages. The text is accompanied by three bound volumes of several hundred illustrations, scroll-like watercolor paintings on paper, the work of six decades, derived from magazines and coloring books. In addition, Darger wrote an eight volume, 5,084-page autobiography, The History of my Life; a 10-year daily weather journal; assorted diaries; and a second work of fiction, provisionally entitled Crazy House, of over 10,000 handwritten pages.