The Festival of Mistakes

A series of talks brought to you by the Library of Mistakes, exploring some of history's most famous economic mishaps and mistakes.

About the event

Edinburgh's renowned Library of Mistakes is decamping to London for the day on 18 May, bringing its unique, idiosyncratic and engaging approach to financial history. The day will explore how knowledge of the mistakes and crises of the past, including banking busts like the collapse of the City of Glasgow Bank in 1878, can help us better plan for the future. 

Hosted at the Bank of England Museum, our programme for the day will take a fascinating dive into some of the most noteworthy financial mishaps of the past with expert speakers, researchers, authors and academics. 

In the morning, join experts for hour long talks. In the evening, join us for a lecture series culminating in a moderated panel discussion. All talks are free but tickets must be booked in advance for each talk. Whether you can join for one talk or the whole day, we look forward to seeing you.

During the day, we will have a mini ‘Library of Mistakes’ in the Museum’s Stock Office where you can sit and peruse a range of books in their collection and see some quirky artefacts related to our financial past.

Can’t join in person? Our evening lecture series can be attended online


Daytime talks 

11am to 12pm
Learning from others’ mistakes: the case of investment trusts
Professor Janette Rutterford and Dr Dimitris P. Sotiropoulos

12.30pm to 1.30pm
Boom and bust: A global history of financial bubbles
Dr William Quinn

2.30pm to 3.30pm
The South Sea Bubble: what did investors know about the South Sea Company?
Dr Helen Paul

Evening Lectures

Please note, you may join for the entirety of the evening lectures, or just for part 1 or part 2. 

Part 1

5pm to 5.10pm
Professor Russell Napier and Merryn Somerset Webb

5.10pm to 5.40pm 
Skin in the game: Capital in Victorian banks
Professor John D. Turner

5.40pm to 6.10pm 
The collapse of the City of Glasgow Bank: is there anything left to learn?
Ray Perman

6.10pm to 6.25pm

Part 2 

6.25pm to 6.55pm
Why did shareholder liability disappear?
Professor Gareth Campbell

7pm to 7.30pm
Chaired panel discussion and audience Q&A
Merryn Somerset Webb, Professor John D. Turner, Ray Perman, Professor Gareth Campbell

For more information on speakers and for abstracts on each talk, please see our booking page.


Talks are sold out. We apologies for any inconvenience. 

If you are attending any talks during the day, please ensure you arrive at least 15 minutes before the talk starts, as there may be a queue to enter.

This page was last updated 17 May 2023

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