He was born in Finsbury Park, North London, in May, 1872. His father Thomas, an illustrator and engraver, had to illustrate the main news story each week for the Penny Illustrated Paper. It must have been from his father that Heath Robinson learned the disciplines of a commercial artist.
He trained at Islington School of Art, then at The Royal Academy Schools. His ambition was to be a landscape painter, but he had to find a more readily saleable form of art. His older brothers were already established as book illustrators and he joined them.