Thursday, December 3, 2015

Mary Pilon

Mary Pilon is the author of The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game, a book about the history of the board game Monopoly (Bloomsbury, February 2015). She previously worked as a sports reporter at The New York Times and a full index of her work there can be found here, including dispatches from the London Olympics, doping coverage, features on legal and financial issues in sports and the occasional video shot from a dog sled or graphic novel about cage fighting in the heartland.

From June 2008 to November 2011, Pilon worked at The Wall Street Journal, where she covered various aspects of personal finance and the financial crisis for print and online editions and regularly appeared on national TV and radio. Among her lesser-known accomplishments: bringing slugs, yo-yos, the NYSE movie room and square dancing to the Journal’s front page.

From Pilon's March 2015 Q & A with David Greene at NPR:

GREENE: The true story of Monopoly begins long before Charles Darrow rolled the dice - a few decades, actually - with a woman named Lizzie Magie, who lived in Washington, D.C. and patented something called The Landlord's Game, which was, in some great irony, an argument against the concentration of wealth. Her game, though, had an incredible resemblance to modern-day Monopoly.

PILON: So Lizzie Magie was a pretty astonishing woman. She was an outspoken feminist. She had acted. She'd done some performing. She had written some poetry. And she was a game designer. And at the time that she patented her game, it was before women had the right to vote. And I was very surprised. I thought, you know, female game designers - they're getting more traction today. But it's still unusual. And at the time she put her patent application in, fewer than 1 percent of patents in the United States came from women.

GREENE: But Lizzie was a rare case. She got the patent, and her game began to spread around the country, including to the Quakers of Atlantic City, N.J., who added all the Atlantic City street names - Atlantic Avenue, Kentucky Avenue, Park Place. It was through a Quaker friend that Charles Darrow got his hands on the game board and sold it as his own to Parker Brothers. The company, like much of America, went with the tale of this down-on-his-luck...[read on]
Visit Mary Pilon's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Monopolists.

--Marshal Zeringue