Three hundred years ago, a charismatic young gambler and man-about-town with a natural gift for mathematics fled London for the Continent. His name was John Law and he had good reason to go, having killed a man in a duel. iving off his lucrative winnings at the gambling tables of Europe, Law became increasingly fascinated by the nature of finance and journeyed to the impoverished, famine stricken France of Louis XIV with an extraordinary idea. At the time when wealth was stored and exchanged as gold and silver coin -and there was rarely enough to fund the extravagances of kings, let alone trade - Law realized that the overriding problem was lack of available money. He reasoned that if this could be lent in the form of paper, properly backed by assets, then it could be lent repeatedly and credit used to multiply opportunities for the making of money. uch a radical notion meant Law faced opposition from powerful vested interests. But his persistence paid off and in 1716, with royal backing, he established the first French bank to issue paper currency and created a trading company that would enrich its shareholders beyond their wildest dreams- so much so that a new word - 'mill
Janet Gleeson was born in Sri Lanka, where her father was a tea planter. After taking a degree in History of Art and English she joined Sotheby's, and later worked for Bonhams Auctioneers. In 1991 she joined Reed Books, where she was responsible for devising and writing Miller's Antiques and Collectibles. She is the author of the Sunday Times non-fiction bestsellers The Arcanum and The Moneymaker. She is also the author of three novels, The Grenadillo Box, The Serpent in the Garden and The Thief-Taker.