|William Heath Robinson's grandfather, uncle and father worked in the printing trade, either drawing
or preparing engravings for publication. William studied at the Islington School of Art in London and also at the
painting schools of the Royal Academy of Art for short periods. He hoped to make his living as a landscape painter,
but his earnings were not enough to support him. Instead, he turned to book illustration.
His early style owed much to Art Nouveau and he quickly established his name providing both line and colour artwork for such books as Don Quixote, The Poems of Edgar Alan Poe and Rabelais, as well as many children's books.
By the 1920s magazines and periodicals had proliferated as the printing industry embraced photo-lithography. Good quality line and colour printing could be produced quickly and economically. Heath Robinson's work was published in weekly magazines where he soon gained a reputation for creating humorous drawings of mechanical processes the simpler the task, the more complicated and redundant the machinery.
| Incredible Adventures of Professor
Branestawm by Norman Hunter was published in 1933, with illustrations by Heath Robinson.
I grew up with a tattered copy of this book. Its original cover was long gone, it had been replaced with thick brown paper and the edges of the pages were beginning to discolour. I used to pore over the pictures studying how each contraption worked. 'Tis all now only a cherished memory for the last 16 years I and the book have dwelt on opposite sides of the world.