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THE PERSONAL ACCOUNT BOOKS OF SIR WALTER SCOTT

Sam McKinstry and Marie Fletcher
The Accounting Historians Journal
Vol. 29, No. 2 (December 2002), pp. 59-89
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40698269
Page Count: 31
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THE PERSONAL ACCOUNT BOOKS OF SIR WALTER SCOTT
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Abstract

This study examines the personal account books of Sir Walter Scott, the world-renowned Scottish author, a topic not explored before by Scott scholars or accounting historians. It sets the account books in the context of Scott's accounting education and experience, which took place at the time of the Scottish Enlightenment, an 18th century movement which saw a great flowering of writings on accountancy in Scotland as well as considerable progress in the arts and sciences. The style, layout and content of the account books is also studied from the point of view of elucidating Scott's domestic financial arrangements and expenditure patterns. These are seen as confirming the insights of Vickery [1998], who posits a liberated role for women such as Mrs Scott in 'genteel' households, which Scott's undoubtedly was. The study also establishes that Scott's personal expenditures, and indeed his accounting practices, otherwise conformed to the general patriarchal pattern identified by Davidoff and Hall [1987]. The final part of the article uses what has been discovered about Scott's personal accounting to revisit the question of his financial imprudence (or otherwise) in business. It concludes that Scott's risk-taking in business was not unreasonable, and was informed by his bookkeeping knowledge and practices.

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