‘I have been ill and frightfully bored and the one thing I have wanted is a big album of your absurd beautiful drawings to turn over. You give me a peculiar pleasure of the mind like nothing else in the world.’ – H. G. Wells to W. Heath Robinson (1914)
In Very Heath Robinson, Adam Hart-Davis takes a nostalgic look back to the imaginative and often frivolous world of William Heath Robinson, one of the few artists to have given his name to the English language. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the expression Heath Robinson is used to describe ‘any absurdly ingenious and impracticable device of the kind illustrated by this artist’.
Yet his elaborate drawings of contraptions are not the only thing to make this book very Heath Robinson. Full of quirky images from Romans wearing polka dots to balding men seducing mermaids, Very Heath Robinson presents an unconventional history of the world in which technology and its social setting get equal billing.