Collected Crosswords from the Guardian and the Stories Behind Them

In this book, you’ll find my first 50 puzzles from the Guardian, with an additional bonus puzzle first published in the online Genius slot. In it, I tell the story behind the development of each crossword: how I thought of the theme, the ideas that didn’t made it into print and the unlikely connections that emerged afterwards. You’ll discover something of my working methods and the lively relationship between setter and editor, you’ll have another chance to solve extra teaser clues and you’ll hear from the solvers who took the time to comment on the puzzles when they were first published.

This is a unique book of crosswords

Hugh Stephenson
Guardian Crossword Editor

More Crosswords from the Guardian and the Stories Behind Them

Out now! Fifty more puzzles from the Guardian and an additional five bonus puzzles previously only available online, including the notorious Referendum Day puzzle that was able to predict the result of the UK’s vote over its membership of the European Union with complete confidence. Get inside my mind; expect talk of crosswords and coincidences, politics and particle physics. Solve extra clues and hear from solvers who enjoyed the puzzles when they were first published.

A Boatman crossword is like a theme park. Each daunting line is a rollercoaster that makes you throw your hands up and scream. He scares you witless. But you can’t wait to do it all over again.

Henry Morris


This is one to savour. Boatman’s puzzles are witty and ingenious – and he never forgets that his job is to delight the solver. It is now an extraordinary pleasure to read how his unique mind works. The First 50 is a book I never knew I needed in my life. Gift it to yourself and to the word-lovers in yours.

Alan Connor
BBC2 question editor and Guardian crossword columnist

I always feel a little bit smarter after I finish a Boatman puzzle, at least until I start the next one.

Tim Dowling

You can buy The First 50 from all the usual online and national bookshops. If your favourite local bookshop doesn’t stock it, they can order it for you (give them a hint that they should order an extra copy or two for their shelves!) or you can buy direct from my online shop, in which case I’ll sign your copy and add a brief personal message if you wish.

Cracking crosswords – each puzzle a delightful daily workout for the brain and a welcome tonic for the soul.

Brian Bilston

Look Inside

Click on the cover image to download a selection of sample pages

Boatman has established himself high up amongst crossword writers. These two books deserve to be classics. No other compiler has written about or presented crosswords in this way.

Tom Johnson
Editor, 1 Across magazine

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