‘The appeal to my vanity is as great as that of finding a reference to myself and my works in The Times crossword puzzle’ – T. S. Eliot in a letter to writer and publisher Sydney Castle Roberts, November 1958.
T. S. Eliot was a fan of the cryptic crossword and evidence for this can be found in our collection of paperback crossword puzzle books from the last few years of his life. Eliot completed the puzzles in pencil, tending to work through the books systematically; in some cases when he had finished a crossword he would score himself – fully completed crosswords were given a tick and incomplete puzzles were scored ‘-1’ or ‘-2’ when he’d failed to work out all of the clues. Occasionally he would abandon a particularly taxing puzzle and some of these are marked with an ‘X’.
Here is one of Eliot’s unfinished crosswords – can you finish it?