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Title: The company promoter in London 1877-1914
Author: Nye, James Gregor David
ISNI:       0000 0004 2721 755X
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2011
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The company promoter has a very poor reputation, in part a legacy of the fall from grace of celebrity figures who made headlines over a long period with a succession of frauds or high-profile bankruptcies. Their companies failed and investors lost heavily. The real-life architects (Baron Grant, John Sadleir, Horatio Bottomley and many others) in turn influenced the creation of a cast of fictional characters, from Merdle in Little Dorrit, through Melmotte in The Way We Live Now to Ponderevo in Tono-Bungay and beyond. The 1890s were the promoter's heyday, particularly the second half, coinciding with the mushrooming of a specialist financial press that enjoyed a symbiotic and often corrupt relationship with the promoters - extracting hush money to suppress critical articles or bungs for uncritical puffery - in a world where the insider was king, and accepted without question. The confrontational milieu of competition on all sides and an unhealthy promoter/press relationship tended to reinforce negative perceptions about the promoter. His success rate was low, and many went bankrupt: the word 'promoter' appears most frequently in the Financial Times from its inception through to the Great War in paragraphs headed something like 'Failure of a Company Promoter'. Subsequent commentators have focused on the charismatic but flawed celebrities and on the large numbers of companies wound-up each year, inferring large-scale fraud. We argue that the majority of promoters were not engaged in fraud. True, they may not have had great success, but this was more 'cock-up than conspiracy'. The contrast needs to be drawn between the occasional meteoric figures and the less well-known promoters, pictured in 1914 by the Financial Times travelling nervously by taximeter cab to a bankruptcy meeting.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available