Arthur Wynne – Father of the Crossword

Day 228 of Colourisation Project – December 21

Challenge: to publish daily a colourised photo that has some significance around the day of publication.

Today’s colourisation is one for the ‘acrossionados’ out there. 🙂 Have you ever wondered why crossword puzzles are called crosswords and not down and across words?

Originally they were called “Word-Cross” puzzles because of their bisecting lines, however only a few weeks after they were introduced to the world, the words were switched around due to a typesetting error making it “Cross Word” and then the hyphen was dropped to give us Crossword, a name which has stuck.

Photographer Unknown: Arthur Wynne – Colourised by Loredana Crupi

It was 101 years ago this day, December 21, 1913, that the first crossword appeared in The New York World. The newspaper’s editor had asked journalist, Arthur Wynne who was responsible for the paper’s Sunday “Fun” page of puzzles, to invent a new game for the paper’s Christmas edition.

Born in Liverpool, England in 1871, Wynne had emigrated to the United States in 1891, at the age of 19, where he found work as a journalist at the Pittsburgh Press in Pennsylvania.  His other claim to fame was that he played the violin in the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for short time before moving to New York City to work on the New York World newspaper.

When Wynne devised his “Word-Cross Puzzle,” he could not have foreseen the worldwide craze that was about to take off.

While his first diamond-shaped puzzle with a hollow center and the letters F-U-N already filled in, was based on earlier puzzle forms, such as the word diamond, he later evolved his puzzles into a symmetrical arrangement which included black squares to separate words in rows and columns, thus making him the first ever cruciverbalist.

During the early 1920’s other newspapers picked up this newfound cerebral pastime and before long crossword puzzles were featured in almost all American newspapers. Within ten years crosswords began sweeping across Europe, first appearing in Britain in 1922 in Pearson’s Magazine with the Times following suit in 1930. British crossword puzzles quickly developed their own style and even went a step further, giving rise to the cryptic crossword. Curiously the New York Times was slow in the uptake of the more difficult cryptic crosswords and it wasn’t until 1942 that they published their first one.

Today both simple and cryptic crosswords are a basic staple of all newspapers and as Australian cryptic cruciverbalist, David Astle said in a recent SBS interview, “Crosswords are popular because they scratch an itch.” Indeed nothing beats the deep satisfaction that comes from completing a cryptic crossword and fortunately for me, many researchers claim that solving crossword puzzles on a daily basis, keeps illnesses such as Alzheimer’s at bay. I’ll let you know.

Wynne died at the age of 73 in Florida, USA on January 14, 1945.


No quote today – just the first crossword devised by Arthur Wynne for your enjoyment.


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