In the height of the Great Depression, From the 1930s, a family guy named Charles Darrow devised a game to amuse his friends and nearest and dearest, employing an oilcloth. He also called the game Monopoly, and he became rich — a Horatio Alger story of homegrown invention if ever there was one, if he offered it.
Or can it be? I spent five years exploring the game’s background for my new novel, The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World’s Favorite Board Game, and discovered that Monopoly’s story began decades before, using an all-but-forgotten girl named Lizzie Magie, a musician, author, Chairman and feminist.
However, she also appeared in plays, also wrote short stories and poetry. Back in 1893, she patented a gadget which enabled type on a page and fed newspapers. The board was circled by players amassing money purchasing railroads and paying rent. She composed two sets of principles, “monopolist” and “anti-monopolist,” but her stated aim was to show the evils of vast quantities of wealth at the cost of others. A firebrand from the railing, steel and petroleum monopolists of her period, ” she told a reporter at 1906,”In a brief while, I expect a really brief time, women and men will find they are bad because Carnegie and Rockefeller, possibly, have more than they know exactly what to do with.”
The Landlord’s Game has been sold for a little while with a New York-based publisher, but it propagates freely in passed-along homemade versions: one of intellectuals across the Eastern Seaboard, fraternity brothers in Williams College, Quakers residing in Atlantic City, authors and toxins such as Upton Sinclair.
This was a Quaker iteration which Darrow replicated and marketed to Parker Brothers in 1935, together with his tall tale of motivated creation, a brand new layout by his buddy F.O. Alexander, a political cartoonist, and what’s surely among U.S. history most-repeated spelling mistakes: “Marvin Gardens,” a friend of Darrow’s had mis transcribed from “Marven Gardens,” a locality at the Atlantic City region.
Magie, then married into a Virginia businessman (but apparently a dedicated anti-monopolist), sold her patent to Parker Brothers for $500 the exact same calendar year, originally thrilled her instrument for teaching concerning economic inequality would ultimately get to the masses.
She was half right.
Monopoly became a hit, selling over 1,750,000 the second and 278,000 copies in its first season. However, the game came to mean the reverse of what she had expected and dropped its link to her review of infantry along with Magie. It’s instructed generations whenever someone goes into bankruptcy, to cheer. You may play with it in your own iPhone, win prizes by paring off game decals off your McDonald’s French fries, or amass untold “Banana Bucks” at a picture tie-in version commemorating Universal’s Despicable Me 2.
As Magie, I found that a trace of her while hunting through digitized records for. In the column to her earnings she wrote,”0″