William A. Paton UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN
WANDERING INTO ACCOUNTING-NOTES ON WRITING CAREER
Abstract: After urgent invitations by,the editors, W. A. Paton has sent us some recollecions of the circumstances leading to his interest in accounting, and of his experience as a writer in this field. The editors have added a bibliography of his major accounting works, but the list doesn't include data regarding some of the translations mentioned in these reminiscences. Additional information is invited from readers who may be familiar with Paton's writing.
I should perhaps confess, to start with, that I've been interested in writing from boyhood days on, and when I finally undertook college work seriously I still cherished the notion that I might make a success as a short-story writer, stressing the mystic and morbid, in the Poe tradition. This ambition was strengthened, temporarily, when I took a course labeled "the short story" at the University of Michigan in the summer of 1913. This course was given in what was called the "Rhetoric" department in those days, a department stressing advanced English composition. A major requirement of the course was preparation of an original short story, and I still recall how worried I was about this assignment—an anxiety due in part to the fact that I was still an undergraduate and most members of the class (a group of more than 60) were graduate students, including a sprinkling of writers who had already had stories pub-lished. Imagine my astonishment when the professor selected my mystic yarn as the best submitted, and read it aloud to the assem-bled class a few days before the final exam. I was of course elated by this triumph, and walked on air for a day or two. I might add that this old tale appeared in 1976 in the fall issue of Dividend, the quarterly magazine of the Graduate School of Business Administra-tion, The University of Michigan.
Fortunately, as I saw it later, my idea of becoming a successful story teller was abandoned shortly. In the fall term (school year, 1913-1914) I happened to elect an advanced course in economic theory taught by Fred M. Taylor. I can say without exaggeration that Professor Taylor was basically responsible for the shift of my