Brief History of Crosswords
Word grid puzzles have been around for thousands of years, but crosswords as we know them today are only about 100 years old. The first crossword was published in 1913 by Arthur Wynne, a British journalist living in New York. He was the chief editorial writer for the New York World, and part of his job was to come up with a page of puzzles for the Sunday edition of the paper. On 21 December 1913, he published his newest puzzle invention, entitled ‘Word-Cross Puzzle’. It was a diamond-shaped grid, with a clear centre, without any black squares (so all the letters in all the words overlapped, or were checked). A few weeks later a typesetter at the newspaper made a mistake, and titled it a ‘Cross-Word’ — and this name has stuck ever since. Later on, Wynne added the black squares, and it started to look like the puzzle we all know today. Wynne’s new puzzle quickly became very popular in the United States, but it took nine years for it to cross the Atlantic and appear in the United Kingdom. This happened in 1922, in Pearson’s Magazine. The first Times crossword (that bastion of difficult cryptic crosswords!) was printed in February 1930. Crosswords of both varieties (quick and cryptic) rapidly became so wildly popular that in the 1920s they were even deemed to be a public menace! The craze for solving these puzzles led to dictionary damagein libraries, and made (according to the Tamworth Herald, in 1924) ‘devastating inroads on the working hours of every rank of society’. Some libraries took to blacking out the crosswords in their newspapers to stop readers from hogging the papers. Crosswords were even blamed as ‘the final blow to the art of conversation’ and for breaking up homes — you have been warned! Nowadays, finding a newspaper that doesn’t include at least one crossword is rare. Thousands of websites are devoted to crosswords. Many newspapers and other providers are heading into the future with online puzzles that can be either printed out from a website or solved interactively on your computer or mobile device. Certainly, no sign exists of any reduction in the crossword’s popularity!
After you have known the basics, you can start by trying “Crossword Daily: Word Puzzle” on your smart phone.