cover of book

Heath Robinson: How to Live in a Flat
by W. Heath Robinson
commentaries by K.R.G. Browne
Bodleian Library Publishing, 2015
Cloth: 978-1-85124-435-5

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.

How to Live in a Flat brings together a series of patently Robinsonesque space-saving solutions for city dwellers looking to make the most of modest square footage. Some of the solutions involve furniture made to serve multiple—and often opposing—purposes, like a combination bath-and-writing desk for businessmen. Others reimagine the workings of entire apartment complexes, including one cutaway explaining the use of the communal bath.

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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