"The Story of Prince Lucio": G.K. Chesterton and the Visual Imagination
Keywords:Chesterton, Prince Lucio, fairy tale, unpublished, manuscript, Prince Wildfire, Lucian, Oldershaw, MacDonald, Golden Key, William Blake, illustration, illustrated, introduction, introductory
G.K. Chesterton’s fragmentary, unpublished fairy tale “The Story of Prince Lucio” is a rich artifact of Chesterton’s writing process that demonstrates the centrality of his visual imagination to his compositional methods. Now held in the New York Public Library’s Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Books Division, the manuscript is replete with illustrations and doodles. These drawings reveal the fact that Chesterton completed many of these images before composing the story’s linguistic text, and they also place him within a tradition of idealist illustrators like William Blake who sought to capture not realistic detail but eternal truth. While the story of Lucio’s adventures is tantalizingly incomplete, this verbal-visual fragment illuminates an important but understudied aspect of Chesterton as a writer and artist.