Give Credit Where Credit Isn’t Due: The Crossword Puzzle Edition

(Last Updated On: October 5, 2022)

We all love a good crossword puzzle. They’re the perfect way to while away a few spare minutes, or to take a break from work on a slow afternoon. But have you ever stopped to think about where those puzzles come from? It turns out that there’s a lot more to the history of the crossword than you might think.

The first crossword puzzle was published in 1913, and was created by Arthur Wynne. Wynne’s puzzle was published in The New York World, and quickly became popular. By 1924, there were an estimated 18 million people solving crosswords in the United States alone. Wynne’s puzzle differed from modern crosswords in a few key ways; for one thing, it was diamond-shaped, rather than the traditional grid format. It also didn’t have any clues; instead, solvers had to come up with the answers themselves.

Wynne’s puzzle was so popular that it spawned imitators almost immediately. One of the most successful was Simon & Schuster’s “Famous Crosswords,” which debuted in 1924. Edited by Margaret Farrar, these puzzles were published in book form and came with comprehensive instructions and clues. They were an instant hit and helped to cement the crossword’s place as a popular pastime.

Farrar wasn’t the only one capitalizing on the popularity of the new puzzle craze; in 1926, Richard Simon and Max Schuster launched their own line of crossword books under their eponymous imprint. These books were hugely successful and helped to solidify the place of the crossword in American popular culture.

The crossword puzzle is one of America’s favorite pastimes. But where did this popular pastime come from? The answer lies in 1913, with Arthur Wynne and his now-famous diamond-shaped puzzle. Wynne’s puzzle was so popular that it spawned imitators almost immediately, including Margaret Farrar’s “Famous Crosswords” and Richard Simon and Max Schuster’s line of eponymous crossword books. Today, the crossword is firmly entrenched in American culture, with new puzzles appearing every day in newspapers and magazines across the country.

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