Joe’s Bookshelf – The Game of Authors Compendium

Written by Stuart R. Kaplan & William G. Miller, and published by U.S. Games Systems, Inc.
Review based upon a digital review copy provided by the publisher

One of my hobbies – if not one I get to pursue often – is researching the histories of games. I’ve spent a lot of time understanding the history of Acquire, and I’ve tried to understand how Pit and all of the variations on the game came to be, with less success. So this book – looking at the history of The Game of Authors – is right up my alley.

The game is traced back to having been inspired by The Game of Dr. Busby. The authors included in the first edition of the game, from 1861, are an interesting lot, with familiar names such as Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Charles Dickens, and William Shakespeare next to authors I had never heard of, such as Charles Kingsley and Hugh Miller. Pictorial information from four of the earliest printings of the game, from 1861-1869, give the reader a good sense of what the game offered.

But above and beyond the pictures, this book includes a wealth of information, including brief biographies of the more obscure authors from various editions, many with excerpts from their works, and a number of complete poems, as well. I found it interesting to discover that I am vaguely familiar with a few of the poems, even though I’d never heard of the authors.

I’m also impressed to see just how much attention was given to female authors, whether so well known as Jane Austen or more obscure. Not all editions divided their attention in this way, and even many of those that did still skewed more heavily toward male authors – particularly from larger publishers such as Milton Bradley and Parker Brothers. But there are a number of versions cataloged which are well balanced.

On the whole, this book is a delightful and quick read which is a must for anyone interested in The Game of Authors, in the history of games, or in the literature of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Components from dozens of copies – including everything from plain text printings to beautiful illustrations – will make the book a visual treat for others as well. This book is available for pre-order at

Thank you to U.S. Games Systems for providing the images from the book!

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