William Heath Robinson’s Midsummer Night’s Dream


I wasn’t planning on featuring William Heath Robinson again so soon but I couldn’t resist posting some extracts from his 1914 edition of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, another great download from the scanned books at the Internet Archive. I have a few of these illustrations in a WHR monograph but I didn’t realise the book as a whole was so good. The Robinson brothers had a remarkable mastery of space in their work, no doubt derived from Beardsley but they found a way to make his expanses of black and white work for their own distinctive styles. This book, like many of those of the period, features colour plates but I much prefer Heath Robinson’s black-and-white work to his watercolours. His Poe book contains many fine drawings but his style is more suited to this Shakespeare play, especially in the depictions of clouds of fairy figures tumbling through the air.




Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive.

Previously on { feuilleton }
William Heath Robinson’s illustrated Poe

William Heath Robinson’s illustrated Poe


Another gem from the Internet Archive collection of scans from North American libraries. This edition of the poems of Edgar Allan Poe from 1900 was illustrated by William Heath Robinson (1872–1944), an artist whose later drawings of quirky inventions have completely overshadowed his earlier books, as well as the work of his equally talented older brother, Charles. I’m probably in the minority in preferring Heath Robinson’s book illustration to his later works, and this edition of Poe is a superb example of his mastery of line and space. It can’t compete with Harry Clarke’s Poe, of course, but then neither can anything else. WHR wasn’t really suited to the darker side of literature but he acquits himself here far better than Arthur Rackham did when he attempted his own Poe collection in 1935.

Bud Plant’s W Heath Robinson page
W. Heath Robinson’s fairy tale illustrations


The Conqueror Worm.


Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The illustrators archive

Fantastic art from Pan Books


Fantastic Art (1973).
Cover: Earth by Arcimboldo.

I’d thought of writing something about this book series even before I started this weblog since there’s very little information to be found about it online. I can’t compete with the serious Penguin-heads, and I’m not much of a dedicated book collector anyway, but I do have a decent collection of the art books that Pan/Ballantine published in the UK throughout the 1970s. These were published simultaneously by Ballantine/Peacock Press in the US and nearly all were edited by David Larkin, with Betty Ballantine overseeing the American editions. Two of the series, the Dalí and Magritte, were among the first art books I owned. Over the years I’ve gradually accumulated most of the set, and I always look for their distinctive white spines in secondhand shops.

Continue reading “Fantastic art from Pan Books”