The place of history, literature and politics in the 1911 Scottish Exhibition

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The 1911 Scottish Exhibition of National History, Art and Industry in Glasgow was one of the most successful events of its kind, attracting over nine million visits and resulting in profits which were used to endow a chair in Scottish History in the University of Glasgow. Alongside a popular entertainment section, it included a reconstruction of a Highland village and a Palace of History which housed thousands of items borrowed from public and private collections throughout Scotland. A number of historical aspects were highlighted, notably the importance of Protestant Christianity, the 1707 Acts of Union, commerce, aristocracy and great men, whereas the history of the Highlands, Catholicism, the working class and Scotland’s relationships with Ireland were ignored. The influence of Sir Walter Scott was profound, with the ‘Great Literary Period’ of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries providing the main narrative and marking the end of a distinctive Scottish history. The topics selected for the Exhibition are shown to relate to the political concerns of its organisers, a group of Conservatives who hoped to demonstrate that the importance of Scottish history lay in establishing Scotland as an equal partner with England in the development of a Protestant British Empire.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-74
Number of pages32
JournalScottish Literary Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • 1911 Scottish exhibition
  • Kelvingrove
  • Scottish history
  • Glasgow
  • Walter Scott
  • protestant
  • Protestantism
  • Unionism
  • Highlands
  • Ireland
  • British Empire


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