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Very Heath Robinson
Very Heath Robinson

Very Heath Robinson

Stories of His Absurdly Ingenious World


240 Pages, 11.25 x 10.75

Formats: Cloth

Cloth, $60.00 (US $60.00) (CA $81.00)

Publication Date: April 2017

ISBN 9781873329481

Rights: US & CA

Sheldrake Press (Apr 2017)

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"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) This book 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. William Heath Robinson started out as a landscape artist and book illustrator, but later turned his hand to drawing humorous illustrations for magazines such as the Sketch and Tatler. His drawings were reproduced worldwide and with his fame came new clients. Companies such as Burberry, Johnnie Walker, and General Electric sought out Heath Robinson to promote their products using his cartoon-style humor. Adam Hart-Davis is the perfect person to set the artist's mechanical fantasies in context, to explain the technological and social background and to laugh along with the jokes. Known for his popular television series What the Romans Did for Us and other programs on the history of science and engineering, he is an avid fan of Heath Robinson and full of stories that lie behind the pictures. He tells how an asthmatic janitor from Ohio invented the vacuum cleaner, how Edwardian etiquette required you to convey peas to your mouth on the back of your fork and how you might do without servants in the Great Depression, thanks to early washing machines, dishwashers, and labor-saving devices of the kind that set Heath Robinson's pulse racing. A dozen collections of Heath Robinson's work have been published over the last 80 years, starting in his lifetime, but most have been compilations of pictures with minimal text. Very Heath Robinson is the first to explain the technical and social background out of which the pictures grew and to weave art and history into a connected story. It portrays Heath Robinson as the visionary he was, foreseeing technical advances decades before they occurred and commenting wryly on urban issues such as traffic jams, litter, and flat living that regularly niggle us today. Generously laid out in a large art-book format, the book contains more than 200 Heath Robinson illustrations, including many published here for the first time, as well as photographs of Heath Robinson-designed book covers, postcards, Christmas cards, leaflets, biscuit tins, and murals. With the book comes an augmented reality app so you can interact with some of the most detailed illustrations in 3D.

Author Biography

Adam Hart-Davis is the irrepressibly enthusiastic presenter who romps across television screens bringing excitement to all manner of scientific and technical subjects. Instantly recognizable in his bright and eccentric clothes, he has enlightened his viewers on all manner of topics from the development of nuclear fusion to boiling the perfect egg.