The Crossword Puzzle: Where Did It Come From?

Behold, the crossword puzzle, but where did it come from? Meet Arthur Wynne, born in England in 1871. Although Arthur was born across the Atlantic, he moved to the United States by the time he was 19 and eventually settled in New York City where he worked for the New York World. In 1913, Arthur’s editor asked him to make a new feature for the newspaper’s Sunday Fun Section. As he brainstormed for new games and puzzles, Arthur remembered a game from his childhood. In this earlier game called Magic Squares, players arranged groups of words so that they could be read the same way across and down.

This puzzle would probably have been enough to please the editor, but Arthur took it one step further, adding more complicated squares and giving readers clues to the correct words rather than the words themselves. Today, we call these puzzles crosswords, but the New York World originally called them mental exercises. Arthur published his first crossword in 1913, it was shaped like a diamond and the clues were pretty easy.

It was a huge success and other papers quickly followed suit with similar puzzles. By 1930, the London Times produced their first crossword puzzle and they went on to create the standards that define crosswords today..