Book Detail

The White Umbrella


Mr B, a wiry little man of fifty with white hair, was sitting in the back of a big white Land Rover when he saw the donkey. It was early evening and the dense rush-hour traffic in Peshawar was moving at a snail’s pace – which was just as well, for Mr B suddenly opened the door, leaped down onto the road and, without a word, sprinted away between the carts and lorries, the buses and the motorcycles…

Brian Sewell strays from the art world to tell the enchanting story of a man and his pet donkey, Pavlova.

Beautifully illustrated by the celebrated cartoonist Sally Ann Lasson, The White Umbrella is an allegorical tale about taking personal responsibility for our environment and the importance of both compassion and empathy. It is the perfect book for children and adults alike – a classic in the making to keep and to cherish.

‘Britain’s most famous and controversial art critic’ (Guardian), Brian Sewell is also the best-selling author of two volumes of autobiography – Outsider (ISBN 9780704372498) and Outsider II (ISBN 9780704372917). An Orwell Prize-winning journalist and renowned animal lover, his beloved dogs star in his further volume of memoir Sleeping with Dogs (ISBN 9780704373259).

Out of stock

Additional information

Dimensions 198 × 126 cm
Book Type


Pub Date


Sally Ann Lasson


  1. Simon Kelner, Independent

    ‘This, we can only hope, is not Sewell’s last testament, but even if it is, it bears witness to a luminous, and, yes, peculiarly British, talent’

  2. John Walsh, Independent

    ‘A charming, allegorical story’

  3. Mail on Sunday

    ‘Brian Sewell has published his first children’s book at the age of 83, written while recuperating from an operation. While nobody would wish illness on the art critic – not even those painters who have felt the sharp end of his nib – that bedrest has produced a beautifully written book which should become a classic’

  4. Evening Standard

    ‘A heartwarming tale for children, The White Umbrella is at first glance a simple fable in which determined good intentions will always win the day … Only in the final chapter do writer and character come together as Mr B returns to his beloved dogs … As anyone who read Sewell’s memorably brilliant canine memoir, Sleeping with Dogs, will know, it’s what he writes about best. Sewell may be aiming his book at “today’s incurious children”, hoping it may get them to “think a little bit”. But I say don’t worry about them; buy it for yourself and fall even more deeply in love with those dogs’

  5. Spectator

    ‘In the case of this novella about a sensitive man called Mr B who rescues a donkey in Peshawar, names her Pavlova after the ballerina, and brings her overland all the way back home to Wimbledon to meet his dogs named after women painters of the twentieth century, this feeling that the target reader is the childhood author himself is overwhelming. You learn more about the young, sweet, aesthetically precocious Brian Sewell while reading it than you do even about Persian carpets and the dusty towns on the old Silk Route’

  6. The Lady

    ‘After three colourful hours in his company, it’s clear that a larger light will go out when eventually Sewell leaves us- he’s just too big a character not to miss’

Add a review

You may also like…