FAQ for Gillespie and I

Is Gillespie and I autobiographical in any way?

For the most part, no, although two key sequences are drawn from my own experience while I was working and living in Portugal. During that time, I did happen to save the life of an elderly Portuguese lady whom I found collapsed, unconscious on the ground. And, for a short time, I lived in the home of another lady who owned a pair of birds. The descriptions of Harriet Baxter’s birds and all of the narrative concerning them (right up until the very end) are based closely on the two birds in that house.

Can I still visit any of the locations mentioned in Gillespie and I?

  • The park where the Great Exhibition takes place is now Kelvingrove Parkin Glasgow’s West End.
  • Harriet’s Glasgow lodgings are on the top floor of one of the residences at the western side of Queen’s Crescent, just off West Prince’s Street.
  • Ned and Annie Gillespie live just around the corner from Harriet on Stanley Street, which was renamed some time earlier in the last century and is now known as Baliol Street

What did Glasgow look like in the time of Gillespie and I?

Many photographs are available to view at the Virtual Mitchell site, the online archive of photographs belonging to the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, an absolutely fascinating site to browse if you are interested in old Glasgow. The photograph below is of the southerly end of Buchanan Street, taken in about 1900. This is approximately the spot where Harriet Baxter first encounters Elspeth and Annie Gillespie one hot day in the spring of 1888. 

Buchanan Street, Glasgow, 1900

Where can I found out more about The Great Exhibition?

For anyone interested in The Great Exhibition, as mentioned in Gillespie and I, various scenes from around the Exhibition grounds can be seen here.

Where did the designs of the covers of Gillespie and I come from?

Both UK covers of Gillespie and I feature the artists’ impressions of the main building used during the Great Exhibition of 1888. The hardback cover artwork and design is by the wonderful Petra Borner – visit her website here – and the paperback cover artwork and design is by the fabulous Neil Gower – visit his website here.

Is Merlinsfield a real place?

Merlinsfield, Harriet’s father’s property, is based on a real place called Robinsfield, near the hamlet of Bardowie. This was a home and studio on the outskirts of Glasgow, once designed and used by artist Robert MacAuley Stevenson. The Robinsfield building has now been divided up into executive apartments. For more information read this article.