Samuel Hynes described the Edwardian era as a “leisurely time when women wore picture hats and did not vote, when the rich were not ashamed to live conspicuously, and the sun really never set on the British flag” – but aside from the fashionable cliques of the upper class, nothing could be further from the truth. Radical politics was in the air on both sides of the Atlantic, with Socialist and Suffragist movements gaining strength all the way up to the start of the First World War.
Most of the cultural artifacts of the age bear the mark of this turbulence in one way or another, and no more so than The Landlord’s Game – a board game designed by American Socialist Elizabeth Magie as a “practical demonstration of the present system of land grabbing with all its usual outcomes and consequences.” It ended up in the hands of Parker Brothers within three decades, now morphed into Monopoly, a game which celebrated the same terrible forces its predecessor aimed to eradicate.
99% Invisible have an episode on the topic, and of their usual high standard. You can listen to it here: