How the Bank of England was built by pirate booty

The remarkable similarities between the invention of the novel and of commercial corporations such as the Bank of England in the seventeenth century can inform present-day theories of management, according to Professor Martin Parker from the School of Management.

In a new book entitled ‘Daniel Defoe and the Bank of England’ published by Zero Books, Professor Parker and author Valerie Hamilton argue that stories and organisations are both fictions that require us to believe in them.

The book tells the story of two friends, Daniel Defoe, one of the inventors of the novel, and William Paterson, one of the inventors of the Bank of England.

The book suggests that their creations work in the same way, using almost identical techniques to make fictions into facts. Both require that we suspend our disbelief, and give credit to charlatans who are out to deceive us.

The book takes its audience back to a London before novels existed – where there were poems, plays, fables, legends and stories of gods and goddesses and knights and damsels, but no stories about ordinary people and nothing written in the language we might use and set in places we might recognise. It tells the truthful story of how the Bank of England came into being, arguing that its origin is a story of pirates, treasure, random good fortune and sheer determination similar to that of the early novel.

‘Daniel Defoe and the Bank of England’, published by Zero Books, is available to order from the University's bookshop.

A video about ‘Daniel Defoe and the Bank of England’ is available here: