Happy Birthday Heath Robinson
A significant birthday anniversary takes place this month as William Heath Robinson (1872-1944), illustrator, cartoonist and celebrated 'gadget king' was born 150 years ago on the 31st May. Born into a family of engravers, Heath Robinson studied at the Royal Academy schools and had ambitions to be a landscape painter. But instead he joined his two elder brothers as a book illustrator during the golden age of children's publishing and afterwards began to contribute humorous drawings to the illustrated press, first to The Tatler and then, with great success, to The Sketch from 1906.
Heath Robinson recounted in his memoirs how he was, "fairly launched on my career as a humorous artist" by editor Bruce Ingram's decision to publish his work. His cartoons for The Sketch, The Tatler, The Strand, The Bystander and The Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News, all magazines in our archive, were to seal his reputation for crazy and convoluted contraptions, offering absurdly complicated solutions for what were essentially quite simple problems.
We have some of the best examples of Heath Robinson's art spanning his earliest pictures from the Edwardian era to his WWII cartoons done shortly before his death. Enjoy some
wacky gadgetry here, and if you'd like to find out more about Heath Robinson and his world, read
'It's All A Bit Heath Robinson' (illustrated entirely from our archive) or
visit the wonderful Heath Robinson Museum in Pinner.