Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Feminist, writer, and game designer, Lizzie Magie's grave in Columbia Gardens Cemetery

Grave of Lizzie Magie in Columbia Gardens Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

Yesterday, I went out to visit the grave of feminist, writer, and game designer, Lizzie Magie. Born Elizabeth J. Phillips on May 9, 1866 in Illinois to Mary Jane Ritchie Magie and James K. Magie, her father was a newspaper publisher and an abolitionist who traveled with Abraham Lincoln in the 1850s. 

Photograph of author Lizzie Magie in My Betrothed, and Other Poems (1892), The Brodix Publishing Company, unknown photographer.

In the 1880s, she moved to Washington, D.C. where she worked as a stenographer and typist at the Dead Letter Office. Magie received a patent for her invention that allowed paper to go through the rollers more easily thus making the typewriter more user-friendly. This was during a time that it was quite rare for women to obtain patients. 

While I could find a good amount of information about Magie as a game designer and entrepreneur, finding information about her as a writer was a bit more of a challenge. 


In 1892, she published a collection of poems, My betrothed, and other poems.


In 1895, her story, "For the Benefit of the Poorwas published in Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly. This ending of this story was rather unexpected and if you read it and know me, you'll know that I love endings like this. 

And, in 1897, she had her short story, “The Theft of a Brain the Story of a Hypnotized Novelist and a Cruel Deed,” published in Godey's Magazine. I rather enjoyed this latter story about an aspiring novelist named Laura who just needed a little time to sit down and write her great American stories. She found the time when she was hypnotized but unfortunately, the professor who was the one who hypnotized her was not so trustworthy and shenanigans ensued. There were some aspects of the writing that were a bit dated but overall, I thought it was entertaining and I really liked the premise of the story and the characters for the most part.  

What Magie is most known for was popularizing the circular board game. In 1903, Lizzie Magie invented The Landlord's Game, and applied for a patent on her board game. Decades later after her patent had expired, Parker Brothers published Monopoly. Charles Darrow was credited as inventing the game until economics professor, Ralph Anspach discovered Magie's patents. He wrote a great tell-all book The Billion Dollar Monopoly Swindle (2010) about this.  


Landlords Game® ~ 1906, board game. Designed by: Lizzie J. Magie (Phillips); Published by Economic Game Company, New York, 1906; Patent Filed: Mar 23, 1903 - No.149,177 - Lizzie J. Magie; Patent Granted: Jan 05, 1904 - No.748,626 - Lizzie J. Magie; Image courtesy of Thomas Forsyth owner of the REGISTERED TRADEMARK "The Landlord's Game®" - See http://landlordsgame.info/

Magie passed away on March 2, 1948. She was buried beside her husband Albert Wallace in Columbia Gardens Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. 

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