‘Buy land – they aren’t making it any more’ quipped Mark Twain.
It’s a maxim that would certainly serve you well in a game of Monopoly – the bestselling board game that has taught generations of children to buy up property – stack it with hotels and charge fellow players sky-high rents for the privilege of accidentally landing there.
The game’s little-known inventor Elizabeth Magie would no doubt have made herself go directly to jail if she’d lived to know just how influential today’s twisted version of her game has turned out to be.
Because it encourages its players to celebrate exactly the opposite values to those she intended to champion.
Born in 1866 Magie was an outspoken rebel against the norms and politics of her times.
She was unmarried into her 40s – independent and proud of it and made her point with a publicity stunt.
Taking out a newspaper advertisement she offered herself as a ‘young woman American slave’ for sale to the highest bidder.
Her aim she told shocked readers was to highlight the subordinate position of women in society.
‘We are not machines’ she said.
‘Girls have minds – desires – hopes and ambition.’