The Sunday Express printed England’s first crossword puzzle in early November
1924. Strangely enough, the coauthor of that puzzle was none other than Arthur Wynne! (Well,
Maybe it’s not so inquisitive. Nearly all we know of Wynne’s life is that he was Liverpudlian
who migrated to America as a journalist.) Wynne had shown a few of his puzzles to a
syndication, C. W. Shepherd, who convinced the Sunday Express to run a few lines. The very first one
selected had an American spelling, so Shepherd set out to create what he thought of those that would beat trivial change.
Through the time he was finished he had revised several words and phrases as well as clues, firmly
Creating, if not inaugurating, the continuing custom of unlimited editorial privilege to Tinker with purpose to improve.
Crossword puzzles rapidly grew to become one of the most well-known amusements of the time,
Both in America (USA) and in Europe. Never before had a novelty obtained such extensive news coverage both in USA and around the world.
Between November 17 and December 23, 1924, The New York newspaper released
More than twenty articles and editorials related to crossword puzzles. The paper carried on
To run articles and editorial comments from time to time for the next five years. The material
In the remainder of this section is driven primarily from items that made an appearance in the Times.
(Dates cited refer to publication and not necessarily to the actual events.)
On November 17, 1924, The New York Times editorialized that crossword puzzles
Were “scarcely removed from the form of temporary madness that made so many people
Pay tremendous sums for rnah jong sets.” Another editorial less than a week Later continued
November 24: Scholars at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore speculated that an
Artifact called the “Phaestus Disk” could have been a forerunner of modem crossword puzzles.
This terra-cotta disk, apparently of Cretan origin and perhaps dating from 2 I 00 B.C., was
On display in the Johns Hopkins Archeological Museum. It had a spiral design of the then un-translated Symbols, which may have made sense when read working outward from the Center or inward from the rim.
A week later, two Princeton University professors released challenges to their respective Classes. Robert Root, a professor of English, made the still-excellent recommendation that established an English vocabulary course using crossword puzzles as text material would be very useful. Warner Fite, a professor of logic, offered a prize for a successfully compiled crossword puzzle in which a solitary set of meanings would lead to two totally different yet equally correct sets of answers for a single diagram. No one claimed the prize.