Since his first cryptic crossword was accepted by The Guardian newspaper in 1966, Smithies was a regular compiler for the newspaper, under the pseudonym Bunthorne, the name taken from the leading character in the Gilbert and Sullivan light opera Patience.
As a crossword setter his clues became known for requiring potentially obscure general knowledge, ranging from Austen and Dickens to French cheeses. One of his most famous clues was "Amundsen's forwarding address (4)" - (mush).
- "A Long Exposure: 100 Years of Pictures from Guardian Photographers in Manchester (1908–2008)", The Lowry (Salford), October 2008 – March 2009. With Walter Doughty, Tom Stuttard, Graham Finlayson, Neil Libbert, Don McPhee and Denis Thorpe.
- Martin Wainwright and Hugh Stephenson, "Obituary: Bob Smithies", The Guardian, 3 August 2006. Accessed 16 February 2013.
- "The Lowry celebrates 100 years of Guardian photography", M&H News. Accessed 16 February 2013.
- "Guardian photography exhibition extended", The Lowry, 24 February 2009. Accessed 16 February 2013.