Henry Darger was born in 1892, and after his parents died at a young age, he was raised in an “Asylum for Feeble Minded Children”. At the asylum he was subject to harsh punishments and forced labor and ultimately escaped a year before the asylum was investigated for abuse. Once free, he found work as a janitor, attended daily Catholic Mass and lived a quiet solitary life in which almost no one knew him or noticed him.
On April 13th, 1973, the last day of Henry Darger’s life, landlord (and accomplished photographer), Nathan Lerner opened the door to the small second story Chicago apartment where Darger had lived in solitude for 40 years. At that time, Darger had been moved to the St. Augustine Mission because of his failing health. Among Darger’s personal affects, Lerner uncovered several astounding works of literature and hundreds of works of art, all created in secret by Henry Darger.
Among these were:
- a 15,000 page work of fantasy fiction called 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;
- a 5,000 page autobiography entitled The History of my Life;
- a 10-year daily weather journal;
- assorted diaries;
- a 10,000 page novel entitled Crazy House
- Several hundred original illustrations and water color paintings depicting the plight of young children against oppressive and evil adults.
Images and text taken from Spillspace
Also interesting is the documentary about Henry Darger, by Jessica Yu in 2004, called “The Realms of the Unreal”, which can be viewed below.