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Saturday, 16 August 2014


The crossword puzzle was invented by journalist Arthur Wynne and published for the first time in the Sunday edition of the New York World on December 21, 1913.

Recreation of Arthur Wynne's original crossword puzzle from December 21, 1913.

Arthur Wynne, inventor of the crossword, was born in Liverpool, emigrated to the US and played violin in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.

The new puzzle in the supplement, known as a "word-cross", was welcomed so enthusiastically that it was retained as a weekly feature.

The first book of crossword puzzles was published by Simon & Schuster, appearing on the market on April 18, 1924. Its impact was huge. Almost overnight a craze for the new brain-teaser swept America.

Americans became obsessed with crosswords. One man shot his wife after she refused to help him with a clue and another left a suicide in the form of a crossword.

Crosswords were so popular among U.S. commuters in the 1920s that the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad provided dictionaries for passengers.

The first crossword puzzle to appear in a British newspaper was published by the Sunday Express in 1924.

The ghost-story writer M R James used to measure the boiling of his breakfast egg by the time it took him to finish The Times crossword, and he disliked his eggs hard-boiled.

Colin Dexter, creator of Inspector Morse, named the Oxford-based detective, his sergeant, Lewis, and many of the suspects they investigated after people who kept beating him in crossword competitions.

In 1941, solvers of the Telegraph crossword were invited to enter a competition. Those who were successful were asked to join the codebreakers at Bletchley Park.

The last thing George VI did before he died in his sleep in 1952 was to complete a late-evening crossword.

Stephen Sondheim and Leonard Bernstein took longer than planned to complete the musical West Side Story because every Thursday they downed pens to solve fiendishly difficult crosswords from the BBC magazine The Listener.

The New York Times crossword puzzle editor, Will Shortz, is the only person in the world to have a degree in enigmatology, the study of puzzles.

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is the longest word ever used in a published crossword. Prolific compiler Roger Squires clued in the Welsh town as an anagram.

The word ‘clue’ originally meant a ball of wool. Because balls of wool were helpful for finding your way out of a maze, the word came to mean anything that gives a helpful hint.

Sources Two Girls, One On Each Knee: The Puzzling, Playful World Of The Crossword by Alan Connor,, The London Times 5/12/05

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