Some Georgian and Victorian Acrostic Puzzles: Precursors to Crosswords
March 7, 2022 8:30 AM   Subscribe

Anne Ritson (1813), Exercises for the Memory: An Entire New Set of Improving Enigmas: "Now take these Poets as they stand, / Close united hand in hand; / And their initials soon will bring / A Shire where once was kill'd a King." Ritson's acrostic rebuses resolve to names of UK counties, often abbrev., spelld oddly, or permjttjng J for I. Her easier Classical Enigmas resolve to names of months. A set of puzzles by Marianne Curties resolves to planets / zodiac signs. Like enigmas, acrostics are ancient. Charades / logogriphs--acrostic rebuses too, e.g. the acrostic rebus solved by Phillis Wheatley Peters as a matter of political engagement--flourished in the 1700s and 1800s. But histories of word games & crosswords [PDF] often focus on later puzzles with multiple intersections--the era of double acrostics (one credited to Queen Victoria).
posted by Wobbuffet (5 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
the era of double acrostics

Well, I certainly can't let this go by without a link.
posted by The Bellman at 10:03 AM on March 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

I was going to post this essay separately but I think it fits in neatly with this excellent post!

Beastly Clues
posted by chavenet at 10:35 AM on March 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

Oh, also, here are direct links to the answer keys for Ritson (1813), Ritson (1811), and Curties (1813). The various puzzles in The Masquerade have answer keys at the end of each volume, e.g. this one or this one.
posted by Wobbuffet at 11:29 AM on March 7, 2022

I saw the post title and first I thought, "Georgian Acrostics! There's only 4 million speakers!" Then I thought, "Boy that will be tough! Then I read the whole post.
posted by Zedcaster at 6:02 PM on March 7, 2022 [2 favorites]

Oh god. I love these, but I massively can't do them. I recall the parlour games from Austen, and concluding that they had nothing better to do than guess at which Roman empire a couplet referred to.

And on preview... that Beastly Clues essay looks fantastic. Saved that for later.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 9:11 PM on March 7, 2022 [1 favorite]

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