From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

John Derek Crozier

(1917-11-12)November 12, 1917
DiedApril 3, 2010(2010-04-03) (aged 92)

John Derek Crozier (12 November 1917 – 3 April 2010), under the pseudonym "Crosaire", was the compiler of the "Irish Times crossword" from its inception in 1943 until his death.[1] As he was the sole compiler for 68 years,[2] the crossword itself became known as "the Crosaire" by metonymy. It is a cryptic crossword, in contrast to the "Simplex crossword" which soon came to be published alongside it. Crozier's pseudonym "Crosaire" is a play on his own surname and crosaire, the Irish for "crossroads".[3][4][fn 1]

He retained an idiosyncratic approach to compilation; his crosswords never came to conform to the standards developed in Britain by "Ximenes". The day he died saw puzzle No 14,120 published;[3] The Irish Times crossword editor estimated there were a year's worth of his puzzles remaining to be published.[6]

He was born in Dublin and educated at Castle Park preparatory school in Dalkey and Repton School in England.[1] He graduated from Trinity College, Dublin in 1940.[3] He worked in administration at the Guinness Brewery in St. James's Gate.[3] He was introduced to editor Bertie Smyllie at an Irish Times party in a Dublin pub on Christmas Eve 1942, where he mentioned his hobby of compiling crosswords.[3] Smyllie commissioned him and the first Crosaire was printed on 13 March 1943.[3] Initially it appeared weekly on Saturdays, with Wednesdays added in 1950, Tuesdays in 1955, and a daily puzzle from 1982.[3]

In 1948 Crozier emigrated to Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, to work as a tobacco and maize farmer in Sinoia, now Chinhoyi.[3] He found farming difficult and the meagre income from his puzzles was important.[1] In the 1962 Southern Rhodesian general election, he stood for the United Federal Party in the Gwebi constituency, losing to Rhodesian Front candidate James Graham, 7th Duke of Montrose. From 1963 to 1989, he taught at St George's College in Salisbury, now Harare.[3] His puzzles were often delivered to Ireland through visitors from abroad to avoid the vagaries of the Zimbabwe postal system.[3] He travelled to Dublin in 1993 for the 50th anniversary of his first puzzle, during which he appeared on The Late Late Show and at a forum for 400 fans chosen by lottery.[1] He died at his home in Nyanga, aged 92.[1][3] A memorial service was held at St George's College, attended by his three sons.[7]

Roy Earle (using the pseudonym Mac An Iarla) took over as the compiler of the Crosaire following Crozier's death, with his crosswords appearing between Monday, 24 October 2011 and Saturday, 9 June 2012.[8][9] The Crosaire has since been compiled by "Crossheir."


  1. ^ The Irish for "crossword" is the calque crosfhocal.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e "A riddler wrapped up in an enigma (5,7)". The Irish Times. 10 April 2010. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  2. ^ "Carrying the Crossaire". The Irish Times. Retrieved 16 February 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Kernan, Lorna; Sarah Crushell; Irene Stevenson (29 April 2010). "Derek Crozier 1917–2010". The Irish Times. p. 3, Supplement "40 Crosswords Celebrating the work of Derek Crozier".
  4. ^ "crosaire". Focal. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  5. ^ "crossword". Focal. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  6. ^ Duncan, Pamela (7 April 2010). "'Irish Times' crossword compiler dies". The Irish Times. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  7. ^ Corcoran, Bill (10 April 2010). "Memorial service in Zimbabwe for compiler of 'Irish Times' crosswords". The Irish Times. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
  8. ^ "Welcome to the Crosaire Blog". The Irish Times. Retrieved 17 February 2012.
  9. ^ Earle, Roy. "Explanations: No. 14802 – Saturday, 9 Jun 2012". Irish Times. Retrieved 4 January 2013.