The Magic Meal (for "The Hat Full of Soldiers," The Strand Magazine, January 1916, pp. 104-105)

William Heath Robinson British

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The British illustrator Heath Robinson created this image to accompany a Bohemian fairy tale in "The Strand Magazine" in 1916. The double page spread shows a poor cobbler discovering the magic powers of an old rag, an unlikely treasure he acquired with the help of a speaking statue. After using his meagre provisions to buy the rag from imps, the cobbler taps it three times with a staff and summons a sumptuous feast. The trusting cobbler soon has the rag and other newly acquired treasures stolen, but is helped by the statue to regain them; then returns home to live in safety and prosperity. "The Strand" was widely read by British troops during World War I and the present tale, though purportedly aimed at children, also cheered men enduring deprivations at the front (soldiers often wrote to the editors to ask for more humor and fantasy). Heath Robinson's beautifully drawn illustration extends a rich European print-making tradition into the twentieth century.

The Magic Meal (for "The Hat Full of Soldiers," The Strand Magazine, January 1916, pp. 104-105), William Heath Robinson (British, London 1872–1944 Highgate, London), Pen and ink on two joined sheets

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