Sunday, December 30, 2012

U is for Umbrella

Does anyone remember those bulky black umbrellas that every Indian household used to possess before the coming of the dainty, multi-coloured umbrellas from Nepal and China? That large contraption saved us from rain and hail but was heavy to carry and was most certainly not an accessory. Folding it would require elephantine effort too and was usually a job reserved for the fathers.

If you are interested in the history of umbrellas read William Sangster's monograph which is pretty comprehensive as regards the history of the umbrella and also includes such delightful anecdotes as a lady saving herself (and her dinner) from a tiger by opening an umbrella right in his face. This so frightened the animal that he turned tail and fled. Or a Colonel, one of those you know who is on intimate terms with all the crowned heads of Europe, and proves his intimacy by always speaking of them by their Christian names. He is at once the "guide, philosopher, and friend" of every stranger who happens to form his acquaintance--a very easy task, be it remarked--and, though so great a man, is not above dining at your expense, and charming you by the terms of easy familiarity with which he imbibes your champagne or your porter, for all is alike to him, so long as he has not to pay for it: he can take any given quantity -   who had a  miraculous escape when he fell off a cliff by first using an umbrella as a parachute and later (as he fell in the sea) as a boat and sailing triumphantly into the port.

A short, humorous book, it is quite a delight to read.


First Line: Can it be possibly believed, by the present eminently practical generation, that a busy people like the English, whose diversified occupations so continually expose them to the chances and changes of a proverbially fickle sky, had ever been ignorant of the blessings bestowed on them by that dearest and truest friend in need and indeed, the UMBRELLA?

Title: Umbrellas and their History

Author: William Sangster

First Published: 1855

Other books read of the same author: None


The book is in the public domain and can be easily downloaded for free. I downloaded it from


Submitted for the following challenges: A-Z (Titles), British Books, New Authors

1 comment:

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