On the 21st December 1913, the first modern crossword puzzle was printed in the New York World newspaper. Created by British-born journalist Arthur Wynne, his diamond-shaped puzzle was originally called a ‘word-cross puzzle’, but due to a typesetting error the name was accidentally changed to a ‘cross-word puzzle’ and the name stuck.

Although examples of crossword-like puzzles had begun appearing in the mid-19th Century, Wynne was the first to include various features that we associate with modern crosswords such as a box for entering each letter and a symmetrical design. His first ‘word-cross’ was actually shaped as a symmetrical diamond with a hollow centre, but he soon went on to design other versions. Wynne was even the first to incorporate shaded black squares to allow the creation – and separation – of rows and columns of words that allowed more and more complex designs to be created.

Surprisingly, the ‘word-cross’ was just one of a number of puzzles developed by Wynne for the 21st December issue of the New York World’s ‘Fun’ supplement. However it caused a sensation and, before long, crossword puzzles had spread beyond the New York World to other newspapers in America and beyond. Within less than a decade they had begun to appear in comic strips such as Clare Briggs’ cartoon ‘Movie of a Man Doing the Cross-Word Puzzle’, and in 1924 the first collection of crossword puzzles was published by Simon and Schuster. This is also the same year that the first crossword appeared in a British newspaper, when the Sunday Express printed an adapted Wynne puzzle in November 1924.

On the 13th July 1793, the radical French journalist Jean-Paul Marat was stabbed to death in his bathtub by Charlotte Corday.

Marat, the second of nine children, had left home at sixteen in search of opportunities to pursue his interest in medicine. Having decided to move to northern England in 1770, he settled in Newcastle upon Tyne where he gained a reputation as a highly effective doctor, but also developed an increasing suspicion of the established political order.

Marat moved back to France six years later where his medical skills earned him the patronage of various members of the aristocracy. He used the wealth he earned from this position to establish a scientific laboratory where he engaged in research regarding fire, heat, electricity and light. Although he was visited by the American polymath Benjamin Franklin, the French Academy of Sciences was sceptical of his conclusions, and relations between Marat and the powerful Academy quickly broke down.

Despite Marat’s wealth and privilege, he maintained his passion for social justice throughout the years preceding the French Revolution. As Louis XVI struggled to secure his rule in the late 1780s, Marat put his scientific and medical career on hold, and instead dedicated his time to writing arguments in favour of political, economic and social reform. In the wake of the Storming of the Bastille on the 14th July 1789, he established his own radical newspaper which soon adopted the name L’Ami du peuple (“The People’s friend”).

Marat’s writings were vicious in their attacks on all those he perceived as being enemies of the people, by whom he meant the lower classes of the Third Estate. His newspaper often called for violence against the upper class and members of the government, even resulting in him fleeing to London for a few months in early 1790. On his return to Paris he continued his fierce criticism of the government, and even began to target less radical revolutionaries with his call for their execution as enemies of the people. He continued to have to go into hiding on occasion, and began to utilise Paris’ extensive sewer network, where it is believed he developed the debilitating skin condition that later saw him confined to a medicinal bath for hours on end.

Despite his reputation as a radical agitator, Marat was elected to the National Convention in September 1792 where he was a passionate supporter of the decision to declare France a Republic. He soon turned his anger on the members of the Girondin component of the National Convention who opposed the execution of the King. Within six months these moderates had been ousted from the government, and Marat turned to working from home due to his worsening skin condition.

On the 13th July 1793 Marat granted an audience to a young woman from Normandy while he soaked in his medicinal bath. The 24-year old Charlotte Corday claimed to have information about Girondin deputies who had escaped Paris, and presented Marat with a list of names of supposed traitors. Corday, however, was actually a Girondin sympathiser. After Marat told her that he would arrange for the execution of the Norman Girondins, she pulled out a five-inch kitchen knife and stabbed him once in the chest, severing a major artery and causing him to die almost immediately of massive blood loss.

Corday was placed on trial and was guillotined in Paris just four days after killing Marat. She claimed in her trial to be a supporter of Republicanism, but described Marat as a ‘monster’. She explained that she had ‘killed one man to save 100,000’, but the assassination contributed to the growing fear of counter-revolution that fuelled the subsequent Terror – in which thousands of moderate and conservative Frenchmen and women were guillotined on charges of treason.

In the immediate aftermath of the murder, Marat was virtually deified by the revolutionaries. At his funeral, the Marquis de Sade – the infamous sexual predator who had joined with the most radical elements of the National Convention after being freed from prison – gave the eulogy. Marat’s bathtub, and the knife that he was killed with, were later bought by the Musée Grévin in Paris and are now on display as part of a waxwork scene depicting the assassination.

Interestingly, Madame Tussaud’s waxwork museum had also offered to buy the bathtub – but their letter got lost in the post and arrived after a sale had already been agreed. Madame Tussaud’s in London does, however, own the guillotine blade that beheaded the former queen Marie Antoinette on October 16th 1793. The founder of the museum, Marie Tussaud, was a famed wax sculptor before the revolution, and had even had her hair cut in preparation for execution during the Terror due to her connections to the aristocracy. However, it was decided that her talents could better serve the Revolution, and so she was spared in order to create death masks of the guillotine’s many famous victims.

The guillotine is, of course, synonymous with the worst violence of the French Revolution, but the machine was actually created to represent equality. In France prior to 1789, beheading as a form of execution had been reserved for the nobility.  Commoners were usually subjected to longer and more painful deaths through hanging, or worse. To end the privilege of the nobility, and to bring about equality in death as well as life, the new revolutionary National Assembly therefore made decapitation the only legal form of execution.

It was recognised that manual beheading was, however, still a gruesome way to carry out the death sentence.  Mary Queen of Scots, who I mentioned earlier as someone who visited the town of Buxton where we are recording this episode of HistoryPod, was only beheaded after three blows of the executioner’s axe. The Yorkshire town of Halifax had tried to improve the precision of beheadings with the creation of the Halifax Gibbet – a guillotine-like machine in which an axe head was fitted to the base of a heavy wooden block that ran in grooves between two tall uprights – a whole two centuries before the French invention. However, this device didn’t make it out of Yorkshire. In the face of continued manual beheadings therefore, on 10th October 1789 French physician Joseph Guillotin argued that the new government of France should ensure that every execution was both swift and mechanical. The National Assembly agreed, acknowledging that capital punishment should simply end life, not purposefully cause pain as well.

Another physician, Antoine Louis, was appointed to lead a committee to develop a quick and efficient decapitation machine.  Although Guillotin was a member of this committee, it is actually therefore Antoine Louis who should be credited with the device’s invention, even though it carries Guillotin’s name.

The first execution using the device was conducted on 25th April 1792.  Nicolas Jacques Pelletier, a French highwayman found guilty of killing a man during one of his robberies, had the dubious honour of being the guillotine’s first victim. Contemporary accounts reveal that the execution went smoothly – much to the disappointment of the crowd who expected better ‘entertainment’.  Excited to see the new machine in action, they were disappointed at its speed and efficiency…although this was, of course, the whole point.

On the 1st July 1903 the first Tour de France cycling race took place over 19 days and six stages. Each stage was more than double the length of today’s equivalents, although the majority of the 2,428km course was flat. Whereas today’s competition involves a series of aggressive mountain climbs throughout the race the 1903 course featured a significant ascent in just one of the six stages, although there were a number of smaller climbs.

The first Tour de France was organised as a promotional tool to boost circulation of the French newspaper L’Auto. An initially disappointing number of entrants led to the race being delayed for a month from its original start date of 1st June, the entrance fee reduced, prize money increased, and the promise of a daily payment made to every rider who completed the six stages at an average speed of 20km/h or more.

60 competitors began the race at Montgeron, south of Paris, of whom 39 were private entrants. A further 24 cyclists joined individual stages of the race, although this meant that they were not eligible for the full prize money. When the race finished at the Paris Velodrome on the 19th July, 21 competitors had successfully completed every stage and their times were totaled to give an overall result, known as the general classification. The winner, with the fastest total time over all six stages, was Frenchman Maurice Garin who finished almost three hours ahead of his nearest rival. He won the title again in 1904, but was later disqualified for unspecified reasons.

On the 19th June 1978, the Garfield comic strip was first published. It has since grown to hold the Guinness World Record for the world’s most widely syndicated comic strip, being printed in just under 2,600 newspapers around the world.

Garfield was created by Jim Davis, a cartoonist who began working for an advertising agency before developing his own comic strip. Having failed to gain a syndication deal with his first comic strip, Gnorm Gnat, about a group of insects, he turned to his experience of growing up on a farm with 25 cats to develop the Garfield strip.

Part of Garfield’s broad international appeal is that it focuses on ordinary household situations without turning to political or social commentary. Garfield’s pessimistic and often cruel treatment of his owner, Jon, and pet dog, Odie, is also a popular feature of the cartoons.

The popularity of Garfield has led it to become much more than simply a comic strip.  Paws, Inc., the company founded by Jim Davis in 1981 to manage the Garfield brand, generated merchandise revenue of $15 million in its first year. Subsequent growth of Garfield to include television series, video games, and even two motion pictures, has led to merchandise sales of up to $1 billion by the early 2000s.

Davis continues to work on Garfield as a writer and continues to draw rough sketches of new comic strips, although his primary role is to supervise production of the cartoons by a large team of 50 artists who are responsible for inking and colouring the completed frames.

Chile and Italy met in the 1962 FIFA World Cup, which resulted in ‘the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football possibly in the history of the game’.

Nicknamed the Battle of Santiago, the match between the Chilean host nation and the Italians was preceded by provocative articles in the Italian press. Chile had suffered devastating damage in the 1960 Valvida earthquake, which was the largest ever recorded and caused at least $3.24 billion of damage when adjusted for inflation. In the wake of the disaster, Italian journalists criticised the decision to allow Chile to continue to host the competition as ‘pure madness’. Shortly before the competition was due to begin, Italian newspapers published further inflammatory comments about the country’s infrastructure, people and capital city.

These tensions came to a head at the Group 2 match between Chile and Italy at the Estadio Nacional in Santiago. In front of over 66,000 people, the players unleashed such violence that the Mirror, a newspaper in Britain, described the pitch as ‘a battlefield’. The match was refereed by experienced Englishman Ken Aston who sent off an Italian player within the first few minutes, but later failed to reprimand Chilean Leonel Sánchez for throwing punches at two separate Italian players, breaking the nose of one of them.

Despite armed police needing to be called three times during the match, the game finished with Chile winning 2-0 against a 9-man Italian team. Aston was heavily criticised by both sides, but defended himself by saying that he was more like ‘an umpire in military manoeuvres’. He was later appointed to the FIFA Referees’ Committee, where he introduced red and yellow cards as a visual sign of a caution or sending off.

Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest.

The two mountaineering pioneers were part of the ninth British Mount Everest expedition that had sought to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain. At the time only the Nepalese approach to Everest was open to climbers, but the government in Kathmandu only granted permission to one expedition a year.

With a British team unlikely to be granted another attempt until at least 1956, the Joint Himalayan Committee who oversaw British expeditions believed it was vital that the 1953 expedition was a success. They made the decision to appoint British Army Colonel John Hunt as the leader of the expedition, although his appointment was opposed by some other members of the team. Hillary himself was initially unhappy as he was fiercely loyal to Eric Shipton, the climber who had previously led expeditions for the Committee.

The 400-strong team of British climbers, Sherpa guides and porters set up base camp in March 1953 and established advanced camps further up the mountain throughout April and early May. A first attempt was made on the summit by Tom Bourdillon and Charles Evans on 26 May, but they were defeated by problems with their oxygen equipment.

Hillary and Norgay were directed to begin their attempt the next day. Poor weather meant that they began their final ascent on the morning of 29 May, reaching the summit at 11:30 am where Hillary took a photo of Norgay, alongside a series of other shots looking down the mountain as proof that they had reached the summit. News of their achievement reached Britain on the morning of 2 June, the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.

Pravda, the official newspaper of what became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, was first published.

Prior to the foundation of the CPSU many revolutionary socialists belonged to the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. It was the RSDLP that had originally split into Bolshevik (majority) and Menshevik (minority) factions in 1903.

An early version of Pravda appeared that year, although at the time it was a journal without political affiliation. Its editorial board gradually began to include active members of the RSDLP and, by 1909 when its headquarters moved to Vienna, the board was dominated by Bolsheviks under the editorship of Leon Trotsky.

The Central Committee of the RSDLP had first suggested making Pravda its official mouthpiece in 1910, but it wasn’t until the Mensheviks were expelled from the party in January 1912 that this happened. The Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin moved the paper to St Petersburg and the first edition was published on 5 May, the anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth.

The first edition of the newspaper consisted of just four pages, and focused on workers’ issues. As its circulation increased to as many as 60,000 copies by July 1914, Pravda was shut down by the tsarist government censors.

Despite this suppression, Pravda continued to be printed under a serious of pseudonyms. The newspaper formally reopened following the February Revolution of 1917 and by 15 March it was being co-edited by Joseph Stalin following his return from exile.

Pravda remained the official newspaper of the Soviet Communist Party until it was abolished in 1991. The newspaper continues to exist, albeit not as a daily publication.

On the 14th March 1950, the FBI launched its list of Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. Its origins lay in a conversation between the Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, and the Editor-in-Chief of the International News Service that led to a news story on the 7th February 1949 that highlighted the “toughest guys” the FBI wanted to capture. The story had such a huge impact on the public that Hoover opted to make the FBI’s “Ten Most Wanted Fugitives” a permanent program the following year.

In many ways the Ten Most Wanted list was a twentieth century version of the classic ‘Wanted’ posters that had been in use since the invention of the printing press. Even the use of newspapers to apprehend people on the run wasn’t new: during the 18th century, for example, wanted adverts for runaway slaves were often listed by their owners.

What made the FBI’s list unique was that it brought dangerous fugitives to nationwide attention. The development of the internet has made the list’s reach global, though it is still an exclusively FBI program. Candidates for inclusion are submitted by the FBI’s network of 56 Field Offices, which are reviewed by the Criminal Investigative Division at FBI Headquarters before final approval by the Director.

The first person to be listed was bank robber, murderer and prison escapee Thomas James Holden. He was arrested fifteen months later in Beaverton, Oregon after the Ten Most Wanted were printed in the local newspaper.

As of January 2016, 505 fugitives have appeared on the list, of which eight have been women. 474 have been apprehended or located.

At 3.51pm on the afternoon of the 25th January 1890, American journalist Nellie Bly arrived in New Jersey after completing a 72 day, 24,899-mile journey around the world. Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in Eighty Days had been published in 1873, and Bly’s circumnavigation was the first time anybody had attempted to turn it in to fact.

Born in 1864, Elizabeth Jane Cochran adopted the pseudonym “Nellie Bly” after securing a position as a journalist at the Pittsburgh Dispatch. However, she quickly became frustrated at being forced to write for the so-called “women’s pages” and headed to New York. Here she proved herself to be a formidable investigative journalist after posing as a mental patient in order to report on the brutal and neglectful conditions inside a local Women’s Lunatic Asylum.

In 1888 she suggested to John A. Cockerill, the managing editor of the New York World that she should circumnavigate the world. She battled with the newspaper’s senior executives for over a year as they preferred to send a man instead. She responded by telling them to “Start the man and I’ll start the same day for some other newspaper and beat him.” Eventually they gave in and, with a single bag smaller than modern carry-on allowance and £200 in English gold and banknotes, Bly departed from Hoboken Pier in New Jersey on board the Augusta Victoria steamship on the 14th November 1889.

Bly sent short reports to the newspaper by cable throughout her journey, while the full account of her journey was later published as the book Around the World in Seventy-Two Days.