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 journalist, introduced the modern crossword in 1913 in the New York World, though as a diamond grid based on the word games he had played as a boy. So it’s fitting that the above early reference to the crossword craze 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 shown ensnared by the crossword craze.

By that time, the big-selling weekly magazines were driving the craze. Pearson’s Magazine had carried the first UK crossword in 1922, and Answers had been carrying a weekly puzzle for a year, as well as 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 paper, the Sunday Express, (2 November 1924) . 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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