William Heath Robinson (1872-1944)

The illustrator and inventor of the epynomous machines W. Heath Robinson was born in London into an artistic family - his father was the illustrator and engraver Thomas Robinson, and his older brother was the prolific illustrator and painter Charles Robinson RI. Heath Robinson started his artistic pursuits by drawing in the British Museum, then spent three years in the Royal Academy Schools - time wasted in his own opinion - and then became a book illustrator. His talent was diverse; he started by illustrating mainly poetry books (Kipling, Edgar Allen Poe, Rabelais etc), then from about 1897 began to illustrate a large variety of children's books. Then, working for a magazine called The Sketch, he developed a penchant for humorous illustration for grown-ups. Finally, in the 1910s he began to make the complicated mechanical contraptions for which he is chiefly remembered today.

The contraptions designed by Heath Robinson still surface in art galleries and other venues. His book illustrations, especially for children's books, are not hard to find in second hand bookshops.

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