William Heath Robinson (31 May 1872 – 13 September 1944) was an English cartoonist, illustrator and artist, best known for drawings of whimsically elaborate machines to achieve simple objectives.
In the UK, the term “Heath Robinson” entered the popular language during the 1914–1918 First World War as a description of any unnecessarily complex and implausible contrivance, much as “Rube Goldberg machines” came to be used in the United States from the 1920s onwards as a term for similar efforts.
“Heath Robinson contraption” is perhaps more often used in relation to temporary fixes using ingenuity and whatever is to hand, often string and tape, or unlikely cannibalisations. Its continuing popularity was undoubtedly linked to Britain’s shortages and the need to “make do and mend” during the Second World War.
Presenting W. Heath Robinson’s illustrations for the Book of Goblins. First edition, published in 1934 by Hutchinson & Co. Ltd, 1934.