This week it’s another of my treasured Folio editions, the classic Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales, as illustrated by William Heath Robinson.
This is the 1918 version of the tales written between 1835 and 1872. It was this book that first introduced me to William Heath Robinson’s illustrative work and the main reason I like this book.
Robinson was born in 1872 to an artist family, including 2 brothers who were also illustrators. He’s actually most famous for his humourous cartoons, particularly of eccentric machines and gadgets.
Although there are several colour plates, for my tastes I am much fonder of the more numerous black and white illustrations. Much of the illustrative content of this book is populated by cherubic little plump children amid pastel pastoral scenes, but as a cartoonist there is also much humour in Robinson’s work. The animals are particularly charming.
It altogether lacks the darkness of Rackham’s Brother’s Grimm, but then that’s down to Andersen I suppose. Still there’s a modernity I like, and an inventive interpretation in many characters which is adorable.