Barbara Hall (editor)

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Barbara Hall was born on 3 February 1923 in Derby, England. She was the Crossword Puzzles Editor for the Sunday Times until she retired near Christmas 2010. She edited and set the puzzles for the Sunday Times for over 36 years, making her Britain's longest serving crossword compiler [1]


Hall had her first crossword published in the Northern edition of the Daily Mail in 1938 after winning a competition when she was only 15 years old. She was briefly a railway clerk at the outbreak of the second world war, whilst studying for entry to London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, before entering the armed services in 1940. She worked in the coding offices, serving on England's east coast with the Women's Royal Naval Service, including for a time at the Borstal naval depot in Cookham, Kent. After the end of the war she married the journalist Richard Seymour Hall, whom she had met during her time in the Navy, whilst he was also working as a decoder at Borstal.

The Halls, with 4 small boys, moved to Africa in the mid 1950s, where she and Richard founded the Central African Mail newspaper. Her advice column, Tell me Josephine, was one of the paper's most popular features.[2] She gave birth to her 5th son whilst in Zambia, before returning to live in the UK in 1967.

Throughout her life she worked as a journalist, meeting many eminent people including Jomo Kenyatta, Indira Gandhi and Chiang Kai-shek. She continued to compile crosswords and puzzles for magazines and newspapers, alongside numerous articles, reviews and features that appeared in a wide range of publications. At one time she held the Guinness book of records entry for the world's largest cryptic crossword.

She retired in 2010, at the age of 87, from her long term role as puzzle editor of the Sunday Times. She continued to make crosswords for The Australian newspaper weekend edition until late 2011.

She received the Order of the British Empire, MBE in 2007 for services to the Newspaper Industry.[3]

Published works[edit]

  • Hall, Barbara; Jewell, Derek & Jewell, Elizabeth (2 May 1989). Ninth Penguin Book of Sunday Times Crosswords. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-008487-0.
  • Hall, Barbara (21 May 1992). Sunday Times Crosswords. 11. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 978-0-7230-0447-9. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |month= (help)
  • Cussans, Thomas (6 October 1994). Hall, Barbara (ed.). Sunday Times Crosswords. 13. Times Books. ISBN 0-7230-0593-1. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |month= (help)
  • Hall, Barbara, ed. (7 April 1997). "Sunday Times" Concise Crosswords. Times Books. ISBN 978-0-7230-0930-6. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |month= (help)
  • Hall, Barbara, ed. (6 November 2000). The "Sunday Times" Concise Crosswords. Book 1. Collins. ISBN 0-00-711153-3.
  • Hall, Barbara, ed. (November 2001). The "Sunday Times" Concise Crosswords. Book 2. London: HarperCollins UK. ISBN 0-00-712200-4. EAN 9780007122004.
  • Hall, Barbara, ed. (4 November 2002). The "Sunday Times" Concise Crosswords. Book 3. Collins. ISBN 978-0-00-714625-3. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |month= (help)
  • Hall, Barbara, ed. (October 2003). The "Sunday Times" Concise Crosswords. Book 4. HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 978-0-00-716536-0.
  • Hall, Barbara, ed. (1 April 2005). The "Sunday Times" Concise Crosswords. Book 5. HarperCollins UK. ISBN 978-0-00-719839-9. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |month= (help)
  • Hall, Barbara, ed. (1964). Tell Me Josephine. Simon & Schuster USA. ISBN 0-233-95717-0. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |month= (help)


  1. ^ Balfour, Sandy (26 September 2003). "The X-Philes, No.11". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 June 2009.
  2. ^ Driscoll, Margarette (26 December 2010). "The singular world behind the riddles of Lady Cryptic". The Sunday Times.
  3. ^ "Puzzles editor awarded MBE". Retrieved 24 April 2017.