The best of the Encyclopedia of Pulp Heroes: Professor Branestawm



Branestawm, Professor. Professor Branestawm was created by Norman Hunter and W. Heath Robinson and appeared a number of stories, a radio program, and fourteen novels and short story collections from 1932 to 1938. Professor Branestawm is an Unlucky Inventor. In fact, he is the archetypal absent-minded and eccentric inventor. In his “Inventory” he is perpetually inventing unusual, bizarre, and outré creations, from a time machine to a burglar-catcher to non-shine invisible glass to paint-on carpet. His inventions inevitably malfunction and land him in adventurous and occasionally dangerous situations. Branestawm is assisted by his friend Colonel Dedshott of the Catapult Cavaliers.

That, at the top, is Branestawm’s potato peeler, as illustrated by the glorious W. Heath Robinson, the British Rube Goldberg (or perhaps Goldberg is the American Heath Robinson). There were a fair number of what I’ve called Unlucky Inventors in the magazines of the pulp era–absent-minded creators and their whacky inventions. But Branestawm is perhaps the greatest of them all.

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