A New Monopoly Game Celebrates Women, but What About the One Behind the Original?


There’s a new version of Monopoly coming, one that celebrates women by paying female players more than men.

The game, Ms. Monopoly, is the first to feature a new character — an advocate for investing in female entrepreneurs — on its cover, according to a news release this week from Hasbro, the entertainment giant that owns the game.

Ms. Monopoly celebrates female inventors, but one was conspicuously missing from the announcement: Elizabeth Magie, a progressive and feminist whose role in developing Monopoly itself has long been diminished.

“I think if Hasbro was serious about women’s empowerment, they could start by admitting that a woman invented the game,” said Mary Pilon, a former reporter for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, and the author of “The Monopolists,” a 2015 history of the board game.

The goal was to amass wealth. The game’s purpose, however, was political. Magie’s views were shaped by Henry George, a popular progressive who argued for a single land tax to keep the wealthy few from monopolizing resources, according to the book. The game was designed to make the case for reform.

Ms. Pilon traced the game’s slow path to a Quaker community in Atlantic City, where homemade copies were created with the property names replaced by local landmarks, such as Pennsylvania Avenue, Virginia Avenue, Ventnor Avenue and Boardwalk. Eventually, Darrow was introduced to the game by a man who attended a Quaker school with his wife.

Darrow developed Monopoly, making changes and tweaks, and began to market it locally and pitched it to Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers. Both rejected it at first, but as the game grew in popularity, Parker Brothers had a change of heart and purchased it in 1935.

The company then set out to neutralize any threats to its new game. It secured a patent on Monopoly, and bought up similar board games or sued their makers. George Parker, the company’s founder, visited Magie and persuaded her to sell the patent for The Landlord’s Game in exchange for $500 and a promise to publish it and two other games of her design.

None of the games took off, and when Magie died in 1948, her obituary made no mention of her role in the development of Monopoly, according to the book.



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