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Remarkable Women - Meet Elizabeth Magie, the inventor of Monopoly


Portrait of Elizabeth Magie colourised by Claudia D'Souza

Charles Darrow (pictured) is typically credited with inventing the board game Monopoly during the Great Depression. But a woman named Elizabeth Magie actually came up with the idea decades before Darrow did.




original portrait

Magie's version, The Landlord's Game, was far more clever (and politically progressive) than Darrow's version. Magie designed her game to have two sets of rules: The first rewarded all the players when wealth was created, and the second rewarded only the players who created monopolies and squelched their competition. Magie's goal was to teach people who played the game that the first set of rules was better.


Darrow didn't agree with Magie's view. He stole her game, stripped it of the first set of rules, and passed the final version off as his own. Magie had sold her game to Parker Brothers and received a mere $500 for it. Charles Darrow sold his version to Parker Brothers years later, and went on to make millions. Magie died in 1948 without ever getting the credit or the money she was due for her creation.