An orphaned child, the reclusive Henry Darger spent his early years in a Chicago institution, and much of his adult life working as a hospital porter while living alone in a cheap rented room. In complete isolation, he feverishly explored his inner world by writing and drawing. 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 is a 15-volume epic describing a war between a group of innocent children and a pack of child-slave owners. The stories were illustrated using a technique of traced images cut from magazines and catalogues, arranged in huge panoramic landscapes and painted in delicate watercolours. Some are as large as 30 ft / 10 m wide, and many are painted on both sides of the paper. Subject matter ranges from idyllic childhood scenes in Edwardian interiors and tranquil flowered landscapes, to scenes of horrific terror and carnage showing the girls being tortured and massacred. Darger wrote himself into the narrative as the children’s protector. His legacy of thousands of pages of typed texts, hand-bound in huge volumes, and hundreds of paintings, was discovered by his landlord shortly before Darger’s death.
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