A History of the Umbrella in Life and Literature

Humans have been making, using, perfecting, and decorating umbrellas for millennia — holding them over the heads of rulers, signalling class distinctions, and exploring their full imaginative potential in folk tales and novels.

In the spirit of the best literary gift books, Brolliology is a beautifully designed and illustrated tour through literature and history. It surprises us with the crucial role that the oft-overlooked umbrella has played over centuries — and not just in keeping us dry. Marion Rankine elevates the umbrella to its rightful place as an object worthy of philosophical inquiry.

As Rankine points out, many others have tried. Derrida sought to find the meaning (or lack thereof) behind an umbrella mentioned in Nietzsche’s notes, Robert Louis Stevenson wrote essays on the handy object, and Dickens used umbrellas as a narrative device for just about everything. She tackles the gender, class, and social connotations of carrying an umbrella and helps us realize our deep connection to this most forgettable everyday object — which we only think of when we don’t have one.

MARION RANKINE is a London-based writer and bookseller. Her work has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, the GuardianOverland, and For Books’ Sake, among other places.

“With its fun facts and detailed illustrations, we predict that Brolliology: A History of the Umbrella in Life and Literature will make a ‘brolly’ enthusiast out of you yet.” Hello Giggles

“An enjoyable reminder that a brolly is never just a brolly.” —Sydney Morning Herald

“Finally, a proper book about this iconic object, the humble brolly. A wonderful, wonderful book!” —Rob McAlister, Chief Umbrollogist, Umbrella Heaven