One of the most popular classes offered by Learning Solutions is called Accounting Comes Alive. It explains accounting in a very simple and interactive way, and everyone who has taken this class has found it interesting, engaging, and useful.
But there are still some people who say that they can’t possibly understand accounting because they simply aren’t that type of person. One administrator at Hopkins explained to me that she had no head for figures, and that she was an English major while she was in college. I must admit that I felt a little bit disappointed because Account Comes Alive was designed for people like her. I was also sure that she would get it if she tried, and that being literary is no obstacle to understanding accounting.
After all, how much more literary can you get that William Shakespeare? I stumbled across an interesting article that suggests that perhaps William Shakespeare was an accountant. In an interesting essay, Was Shakespeare an Accountant?, Bernard Reynolds (1974) discusses Shakespeare’s “lost years.” (It is quite extraordinary how little we know about the man who had such a profound impact on our language and culture!)
Reynolds suggests that Shakespeare’s images and metaphors are so frequently drawn from accounting that he may have been well versed in the profession himself: “Shakespeare’s images involving bookkeeping and accounting method also make it a probability that Shakespeare had at some time in his life practiced the methods of Venice.”
He cites various examples from various plays, including this one from Cymbeline:
0, the charity of a penny cord! it sums up thousands
in a trice: you have no true debitor and creditor
but it: of what’s past, is, and to come, the
discharge: your neck, sir, is pen, book, and counters;
so the acquittance follows.
So was Shakespeare an accountant, a soldier, or a schoolmaster as others have suggested? Who knows? But we do know that he understood quite a lot about double-entry accounting and probably would have enjoyed our class, Accounting Comes Alive.
This is a very popular class that fills up quickly. If you think it might interest you, click on the link below to register or get on the waiting list.
Reynolds, B. (1974). Was Shakespeare an accountant? Journal of Accounting Research, 12(2), 367-371.
Full article is available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2490385