William Heath Robinson is famous for his comic drawings of a fantastical or absurd world. Born into an artistic family, he abandoned his hope of becoming a landscape artist for a career as a book illustrator, which afforded him a living.
His illustrations for the 1904 edition of Rabelais made his reputation as a serious artist; but his income came from his humorous black and white illustrations for magazines such as Tatler, Punch, The Bystander and Sketch. His cartoons of crazy inventions captured the public imagination as they subtly poked fun at the machine age and the self-importance of the people enchanted by it.
The term ‘Heath Robinson contraption’ entered the dictionary around 1912; and one of the automatic analysis machines built at Bletchley Park during World War II was named ‘Heath Robinson’ in his honour. His autobiography, My Line Of Life, was published in 1938.