Ensnared in the 1925 crossword craze

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Readers found crosswords difficult in 1925, according to Our Home magazine

Arthur Wynne, a Liverpudlian, introduced the modern crossword in 1913 in the New York World, based on the word games he had played as a boy. So it’s fitting that the above  early reference to crosswords in Britain is on a children’s page, in this case from Our Home, a domestic monthly (November 1925). From boys to their uncle and even the Classics teacher, everyone is ensnared by the crossword craze.

By that time, the cheap weekly magazines were driving the craze. Answers was running a regular puzzle, and picture-based variants. Tuppenny weekly rival Tit-Bits was offering £500 in its prize crossword competitions – which would have bought a house at the time.

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People clearly found them difficult, as the Our Home cartoon and poem suggest. This is demonstrated by the fact that the results published in a December 1926 issue of Tit-Bits show that no-one was able to complete the November 13 puzzle – so the £500 prize was divided between seven entrants. It was the fourth puzzle the popular weekly magazine had carried.

This was about a year after the first crossword in a British daily paper, in the Express. The Telegraph also started up in 1925 and there was a rash of arrivals in 1930 with the Listener, the Times and Country Life. Rhythm magazine ran a jazz crossword in the 1930s.

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One Response to “Ensnared in the 1925 crossword craze”

  1. Postwar crossword days at Elle | Magforum blog Says:

    […] there being two or three clues for each words, and unusual numbering for the grid. In Britain, the crossword craze dates to the mid-1920s and the symmetrical shape and numbering style were ubiquitous in the […]

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