The first double-crostic puzzle

The first double-crostic puzzle was published in the Saturday Review in 1934. It was created by Elizabeth Kingsley .


Elizabeth Kingsley was born in 1871 in Brooklyn. She attended Wellesley College, which was a private women’s liberal arts college located west of Boston in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

She was working as a teacher in  1933 when she attended a Wellesley reunion at which she “despaired that students embraced twentieth-century scribblers like James Joyce”.

Michelle Arnot on wikipedia describes how Elizabeth Kingsley invented the double-crostic puzzle – “Tailoring a crossword grid, she stretched its boundaries to create a rectangle. Taking an excerpt from a favorite author, she filled in the grid reading left to right only; words were separated by black squares and continued below and to the left when necessary. Each blank square was assigned a number from 1, at the top left, to 178, at the bottom right corner. Her first selection was six lines from the poem “Ulysses” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson… Spelling out the poem in anagram tiles, she threw all 178 letters into a pot. From this alphabet soup she pulled out eighteen letters for the poet’s name and seven for his work, which she set down in a column. In the style of an acrostic puzzle, these four words provided the first letters for a system of twenty-five anagrams. … Six months of nonstop production yielded a manuscript of a hundred double crostic puzzles. In March 1934, Kingsley left the pages at the offices of The Saturday Review of Literature… On a Tuesday, the contract was signed; and soon after, Kingsley set up shop at the Henry Hudson Hotel, where she personally crafted a weekly puzzle from her home office. Simon & Schuster gave her a series, and she introduced an acrostic feature for the Sunday Times puzzle page.”

The first double-crostic puzzle was published in the Saturday Review on March 31, 1934. Elizabeth Kingsley  went on to write puzzles for the New York Times between May 9, 1943 and December 28, 1952.

She died on June 8, 1957.

newspaper-412452_1920 by stevepb



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