57 Across: Nectar of the gods

A cup of tea and a crossword puzzle

On December 21, 1913, a journalist from Liverpool published a “word-cross” puzzle in an American magazine. This puzzle is considered to be the first crossword puzzle, and Wynne is credited as being the inventor. For some unknown reason (well, unknown to me) his crossword puzzles weren’t published in the UK  until 1922 (in a magazine), and 2 years later, the Sunday Express was the first newspaper to publish crosswords.

Do you do crossword puzzles? Over the years I’ve worked a few, but never with any degree of regularity.

I have a hard enough time completing a crossword, much less comprehending what it must be like to actually make one.  The creation of crosswords is called – wait for it – cruciverbalism, and those who practice cruciverbalism are officially called cruciverbalists (from the Latin for cross and word). More commonly, though, they are known as setters or compilers.

Roger Squires of Ironbridge, Shropshire, holds the record as being the most prolific crossword compiler, having produced and published over 70,000 of them! He also holds the record for the longest word ever used in a published crossword – the 58-letter Welsh town Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch clued as an anagram. Not funny, Roger. Not funny at all.

Perhaps due to the fact that the crossword puzzle was invented by an Englishman,  the word game seems to have developed a special relationship with tea. There is a crossword-puzzle-solver software program called The Electronic Alveary – T.E.A. – that contains over 6 million words and phrases, and many crossword puzzle books use the word “tea” in their titles:




Princess Margaret was an expert at The Times crossword and would complete it each morning while taking a tea break. (Apparently, all the Royal Family are keen on crosswords. Kate, are you listening?) I even read a 1954 newspaper article saying that Princess Margaret won a Country Life crossword puzzle contest.

I rather like the idea of working a crossword puzzle alongside a cup of tea, and may just give it a go again one of these days soon. In the meantime, a bit of practice: 57 Across. Nectar of the gods. 3 letters. Ends with “a”.   Hmmm…..

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  1. I love a good crossword… I much prefer them to sudoku, that’s for sure!!

    • Hi Nat, and welcome to Tea in England! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment.

      Sudoku? I’ve totally given up on Sudoku!

      I love the little bunting image that appears just before the Comments section on your blog. How did you do that? 🙂

  2. Christy Kay says:

    I do crosswords all the time, mostly in the winter, but lately, I’ve been doing them every night while watching Craig Ferguson. I used to be really good at them, but alas, in my decline, the only crossword books I buy have the word ‘easy’ on them. LOL. I’m sure I got the gene from my paternal grandmother – she did them constantly.

  3. Christy Kay says:

    *blush* Thank you for the praise.
    Oddness: Grandma always had to do her puzzles in red or green ink. No other colors. Hmm.

  4. My mum loves crosswords and has done them all her life. Good for the brain!

    • Hi Sandi, It is indeed good for the brain. That’s why I think I need to get into the habit of doing one every now and then. My brain needs all the help it can get! 🙂

  5. Very evocative image for me – as we all know English mothers make the best cup of tea. Mine also does the Guardian crossword daily. – I can’t get my head round it – but I love breakfast at mum’s with my Marmite on toast and cuppa and pouring over the Weekend papers.

  6. I love Crossword puzzles but don’t find myself doing them often. I like the books that you referenced above. Will have to check into those. Anything with the words “A Cup of Tea and….” is sure to be a winner! I HAVE made little Crossword puzzles when I worked with a children’s program….quite a challenge, for sure!

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