The Origins of Crossword Puzzles

Crossword puzzles are some of the most popular hobbies in the world. Since their invention, they’ve appeared in almost every newspaper in the world and there are popular magazines and books devoted to them. In this article we’ll delve a little bit into the history of crossword puzzles.

Word puzzles have been around for centuries – there have been word square puzzles found in ruins at Pompeii, and have been written about in Roman history. Crosswords are one of the newer types of word puzzle, having only been around for just over one hundred years.

Common myth attributes the invention of the first recorded crossword puzzle to Arthur Wynne, a journalist from Liverpool, England in around 1913 however this is not the case. Two decades before that, an Italian called Giuseppe Airoldi created a four-by-four grid puzzle which was published in an Italian magazine in 1890. While it would not be recognizable as the crossword we know and love today, it was clearly the inspiration where future puzzles derived from.

Arthur Wynne’s «word-cross» puzzle (Later renamed to ‘Crossword Puzzle’) was first published in the New York World, and soon caused a sensation. Puzzle lovers descended on their local libraries to use the dictionaries and encyclopedias, and were satirized in cartoons of the day. There was public debate on whether crossword puzzles were beneficial as a learning tool or not, and some magazines publicly denounced them. It was clear that crosswords were a sensation, and it was only a short time before over twenty five newspapers and magazines were publishing them.

Soon, publishers began to produce books entirely devoted to playing or solving word puzzles. The next real innovation in crosswords was the cryptic puzzle, imported from England in 1968 which involves very difficult clues derived from puns, metaphors and lateral thinking. Soon, these puzzles were available throughout the world in a variety of languages and are now a common puzzle for all ages.

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