Bursar

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The Bursar
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Name A. A. Dinwiddie
Race Human
Age 71 in The Truth
Occupation Bursar
Physical appearance Elderly, with beard and often cross-eyed if he's just had his dried-frog pills.
Residence Unseen University
Death
Parents
Relatives A sister in the Ramtops
Children
Marital Status Never Married
Appearances
Books Eric
Moving Pictures
Reaper Man
Lords and Ladies
Soul Music
Interesting Times
Hogfather
The Last Continent
The Truth
Cameos Men at Arms
Jingo

The Bursar, real name Dr. A. A. Dinwiddie, (spelled with an "O") D.M.(7th), D.Thau., B.Occ., M.Coll., B.F., is an arithmetically-inclined wizard who has been sadly unsettled by his work at the Unseen University. When he first appeared in Eric and Moving Pictures the Bursar actually appeared relatively sane, but during the events of Reaper Man he became increasingly unhinged. As a consequence he requires regular ingestion of dried frog pills to maintain normality, though he is essentially overdosed until his mind is in a heaven of pink clouds and his body is stiff. As he could still apparently function as a bursar - a job no-one else wanted - it was initially a minor consequence to his fellow wizards.

When there is a threatening situation, the Bursar tries to contribute to the discussion, but his contributions are rarely relevant. Sometimes he speaks as though he's doing something else, e.g. calling for a pub landlord while he's really at a college council meeting. Sometimes he talks as though he has imaginary alternate personalities. Sometimes his sayings are entirely incoherent. On at least one occasion, the Bursar went through the previous day... backwards. Also, he has hallucinated that he could fly at least once, which led to Ridcully trying to get him away from the ceiling. His insanity is so renowned, that "going bursar" has become a byword for "going crazy" in Ankh-Morpork.

The Bursar's original personality could be considered quiet and reserved, and he became the UU Bursar because no-other wizard was so happy as he could be when working with numbers. However, Mustrum Ridcully's promotion to Archancellor led to the Bursar's current insanity, as Ridcully's personality wore away at his own, and he had eventually reached his current-level of (in)sanity. The Bursar's idea of excitement was originally a soft-boiled egg, and Ridcully's presence made him highly strung and nervous. Nowadays there are many kinds of "health restrictions" for him, like only using a wooden spoon at meals, and not eating anything sugary.

Happily, just very recently, the Bursar's colleagues had figured out that they could make the Bursar hallucinate that he's sane, (since events in The Truth,) which most of the population already do without the help of dried frog pills. The Bursar now acts rational and coherent except that he really does fly around, and that it's still relatively easy to upset him.

In The Last Continent, it is revealed that he suffers from Planets, an occupational hazard of wizards.

Like many members of the faculty and college council, the Bursar is usually referred to by his job-title rather by his name, (the only other prominent faculty to be named are Rincewind, Mustrum Ridcully, Ponder Stibbons, John Hicks, Horace and Henry.) Dr. Dinwiddie's first definite appearance is in Moving Pictures. He may also have been the Bursar in Eric, since it is not a post that wizards kill the incumbent to attain. In The Last Continent, it's mentioned that the Bursar first enrolled at UU at a time when wizards' training began at a very young age.

As of Unseen Academicals, it seems that his insanity has reached the point where he could not properly fulfil his duties. He is said to have developed a specialised form of dyslexia, where he is unsure as to where the decimal point goes. Perhaps his increasing addiction to the sort of higher mathematics which can only be understood by three other people as well as those who habitually write in crayon, dribble a lot, and require serious medication, has rendered him unfit for the more mundane sort of number-juggling. His role as Bursar has since been taken on by the increasingly-overburdened Ponder Stibbons.

The Bursar has a special knack for casting the spell 'Eringyas' Surprising Bouquet'. Useless, but it makes nice roses.

Previous Bursars

Dr. Dinwiddie is the current and long-running Bursar in the Discworld series since the University's politics stabilized with the Archchancellorship of Mustrum Ridcully. However, there had been previous Bursar(s) who had been named earlier in the series.

  • Spelter: Bursar in Sourcery.
  • In The Light Fantastic, the bursar "was not a wizard," however Spelter was a Fifth Level wizard and Dr Dinwiddie has a string of UU qualifications after his name, suggesting that this is not a fixed policy. Or that dual-qualified wizard/Accountants are hard to find.

Bursars in other Guilds and trades

  • It is possible the Assassins' Guild's Bursar, Mr Winvoe, is showing the early signs of requiring Dried Frog Pills. The business with the Auditors and discovering his book-keeping is out by three and a half million gold pieces appears to cause him a certain amount of occupational stress.
  • Mavolio Bent occupies a similar position at the Royal Bank, and is a mass of nervous tics and complexes. Although in his case, having run away from the circus to join a bank might explain things. Coming to terms with being a born Clown and accepting a seriously repressed side of himself appears to have helped.
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