Glasgow's International Exhibition of Science, Art and Industry (1888): Background information when reading Gillespie and I

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Gillespie and I

A Novel

by Jane Harris

Gillespie and I
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  • Paperback:
    Jan 2012, 528 pages

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Amy Reading

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Beyond the Book:
Glasgow's International Exhibition of Science, Art and Industry (1888)

Jane Harris sets her novel Gillespie and I at a time when Scotland felt it was ready for its close-up. The International Exhibition of Science, Art and Industry took place in Glasgow from May to November in 1888 at Kelvingrove Park on the banks of the River Kelvin (image below, left). It was the country's bid for prominence in the industrial age, following the "world fair" model established by the enormously popular Great Exhibition in London in 1851.

Its main purpose was to highlight Scottish contributions to industry and applied science, especially to that which made Scotland a distinctive force of Empire: ship-building, engines, and ships' accommodations. Even the Orientalism of much of its architecture - the Main Building (image below, center) was called "Baghdad by the Kelvin" - was intended to favorably contrast Scotland to pre-industrial cultures.

Glasgow Exhibition scene Baghdad by the Kelvin Indian Bazaar at the Glasgow Exhibition

City boosters counted 5.7 million tickets sold and raised enough money to build the ...

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