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  • Arts & Culture
  • Issue 40

Object Matters

A searching history of the crossword. Words by Stevie Mackenzie-Smith. Photograph by Cecilie Jegsen.

As pastimes go, crossword puzzles enjoy a pretty virtuous reputation. Why scroll grids on Instagram when you can tackle a real one with a freshly sharpened pencil? 

Like so many new forms of entertainment, however, when the crossword debuted it was regarded with suspicion. First published in 1913, the “Word-Cross Puzzle” was the invention of Arthur Wynne, a British expat editor at Joseph Pulitzer’s broadsheet New York World. His was more literal than cryptic. “What this puzzle is, ” one of Wynne’s first clues read: “HARD.”  

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