William Heath Robinson, English illustrator, cartoonist and humorist. 1872 - 1944
William Heath Robinson was born in England in 1872. He is best-known for his fanciful, ludicrous and imaginative depictions of modern life and our increasing dependence on machines.
Many of his family created illustrations for publication, and he studied at the Islington School of Art (in 1887) and the Royal Academy and soon began his career drawing in the British Museum. In 1897, he began illustrating books, notably The Giant Crab and Other Tales From Old India, Danish Fairy Tales and Legends of Hans Andersen, Don Quixote and The Pilgrim's Progress.
His famous drawings of elaborate and absurd machinery were first published in a magazine called The Sketch, and by 1918 he was famous for his drawings, many of which were connected with the Great War.
Through his drawings and writing, he poked fun at various facets of modern living. He could take everyday situations and illustrate the silliness behind them, with particular emphasis on things mechanical. His complex and convoluted contraptions were constructed from commonplace items (most memorably, lengths of knotted string and complex, leaky plumbing), and were often designed to carry out a fairly straightforward task - for example, boiling an egg. Think of Rube Goldberg's work, or Caractacus Potts' inventions in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and you have the picture of a Heath Robinson device.
He wrote and drew on many subjects - golfing, the War, gardening, flight, motoring and modern urban life, all the while caricaturing our reliance on machines to improve our lot in life. He died in 1944 aged 72, following prostate surgery.
Much research,especially from http://www.bpib.com/illustrat/whrobin.htm