A History of the Umbrella in Life and Literature

Part of Gift Ideas

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.

“That’s right, the humble umbrella gets a serious exploration in this thoughtful inspection of the ‘portable roof.’” —ELLE UK

“Marion Rankine’s tour through umbrella culture suggests how widely this apparently simple accessory has been regarded with reverence, superstition and fascination… she is a thoughtful anthologist of the diverse literary examples she collects.”—The Guardian

“A breezy read… [and] attractively packaged… Brolliology makes a convincing case for the odd but noble endurance of its subject.” —The Globe and Mail

“This pretty little gem of a book…. is a beautifull designed and illustrated tour through literature and history of umbrellas… Filled with cool illustrations and fun facts.” —BookRiot

“If you don’t see the point in a cultural history of umbrellas, then friend, you are not thinking big enough. Brolliology has it all!” —Vox

“This is a perfect book for a rainy afternoon. I felt completely safe opening it indoors.” —PopMatters

“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