Two Girls, One on Each Knee

Two Girls, One on Each Knee:

A History of Cryptic Crosswords


Two Girls, One on Each Knee: A History of Cryptic Crosswords is an audaciously constructed book on the pleasures and puzzles of cryptic crosswords and their linguistic wordplay, from Alan Connor, the Guardian‘s writer on crosswords

On 21 December 2013, the crossword puzzle will be 100 years old. In the century since its birth, it has evolved into the world’s most popular intellectual pastime: a unique form of wordplay, the codes and conventions of which are open to anyone masochistic enough to get addicted. In Two Girls, One on Each Knee, Alan Connor celebrates the wit, ingenuity and frustration of setting and solving puzzles. From the beaches of D-Day to the imaginary worlds of three-dimensional crosswords, to the British school teachers and journalists who turned the form into the fiendish sport it is today, encompassing the most challenging clues, particular tricks, the world’s greatest setters and famous solvers, PG Wodehouse and the torturers of the Spanish Inquisition, this is an ingenious book for lovers of this very particular form of wordplay.

Alan Connor writes twice-weekly about crosswords for the Guardian.

The title is derived from a clue which is credited to Roger “Rufus” Squires.  The answer is given, as usual, between the curly brackets {PATELLA (one on each knee), the two girls being Pat and Ella}.



  1. Alan Connor
    Posted November 10, 2013 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Oh, that looks nice. Many thanks for sharing, Dave.

    • crypticsue
      Posted November 10, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Did you see the nice (albeit quite small) article about you and your book in Thursday’s DT??

    • Posted November 10, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the name check Alan, albeit tucked away on page 287 under Resources.

  2. Alan Connor
    Posted November 10, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

    I did, Sue. I think there might be more data of interest from the survey I did, too. And yep – perhaps not a big enough billing, Dave, given that without bigdave44, we would only have our memories to recover ill-remembered Toughie clues…!

    • gnomethang
      Posted November 14, 2013 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

      LOL! – I shall be buying

  3. bifield
    Posted November 11, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    I have purchased the Kindle edition. It is waiting to be read as soon as I have finished my current book. It certainly looks interesting and entertaining.

    • gnomethang
      Posted November 14, 2013 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      Yay! If it is on Kindle I am there!

  4. KiwiColin
    Posted November 14, 2013 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    I have already ordered this one and the one by John Halpern as my Christmas present from our daughter. Thanks for pointing me towards them.

  5. crypticsue
    Posted November 23, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    The Saturday Review section of the paper which is mainly about Christmas books, has Alan’s book title as the heading to a small piece on this season’s witty stocking fillers. It describes the book as ‘classy’