Business history has been a thriving academic industry in Britain for the last three decades. Following some pioneering case studies of Industrial Revolution entrepreneurs by the early giants of the discipline of economic history, the postwar generation has produced a series of high quality company histories. The first of these, published in 1954, was Charles Wilson's history of the Anglo-Dutch multinational Unilever, formed by a merger of Lever Brothers and Margarine Unie in 1929. Wilson's book set the pattern for a high standard of scholarship, resting on complete freedom of access to company archives, and for publication based on scholarly independence rather than the public relations needs of the commissioning organization. If some of its terms of reference now seem dated, and its framework of analysis somewhat unscientific, then that is an indication of the incentive Wilson provided for others to do better, particularly in the use of economic theory and of comparative analysis setting firms in their industrial or international context.