cover of book

Heath Robinson’s Great War: The Satirical Cartoons
by W. Heath Robinson
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2015
Cloth: 978-1-85124-424-9

Heath Robinson (1872–1944) is Britain’s “Gadget King”—master of the art of creating madcap contraptions that made use of ropes, weights, and pulleys to perform relatively simple tasks, from wart removal to peeling potatoes. Although he trained as a painter and also worked as a book illustrator, Robinson developed his forte with drawings of gadgets that parodied the absurdities of modern life. A true cartoonist, Robinson had a way of getting at the heart of the matter while simultaneously satirizing it mercilessly. He became a household name in Britain, and his popularity continues today with plans to build a museum in London to share with a new generation the story of his life and work.

With Heath Robinson’s Great War, the cartoonist lampoons the German army and the hardships of war. What better antidote to the threat of popular German propaganda than drawings of the “Huns” disabling the British army not with mustard gas but laughing gas? In high demand among British civilians, Robinson’s WWI panels also provided respite to thousands of troops—many of whom sent the cartoonist letters suggesting future subjects or simply expressing their appreciation. 

A side-splittingly funny collection from the man whose “absurd, beautiful drawings” H. G. Wells claimed “give me a peculiar pleasure of the mind like nothing else in the world,” this book make a perfect gift for anyone looking to have a laugh at our complicated and increasingly mechanical modern life.

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