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…..