This major study considers bankruptcy in eighteenth-century England. Typically, business enterprise in this period has been seen as a success story - where men like Boulton, Watt, Wedgwood and Arkwright helped to forge the Industrial Revolution. But this is a myth, for thousands of businesses failed, hounded by their creditors into bankruptcy and ignominy. This book charts their history by looking at the incidence and causes of bankruptcy and by examining contemporary reactions to these. In this way, not only is evidence produced to improve our understanding of the nature of business enterprise, but the dynamics of the eighteenth-century economy over both the short and the long term are uncovered.