Anne Bradford’s dictionary started life as her own personal word list, as she solved crosswords from an early age and wrote down any words she wanted to remember. She wrote the clues from the crosswords she solved, and after twenty-five years she found she had enough material for a dictionary.
Her first dictionary was published in 1986. Anne solves crosswords from The Times, The Listener and The Radio Times, sometimes doing 20 crosswords a week and regularly reads through new dictionaries looking for fresh information. She updates her lists regularly, bringing out a new edition every few years – the current edition is the eleventh iteration!
Her dictionary works for straight or cryptic crosswords. Some of Anne’s dictionary entries really make you think. For instance, under snowdrop is the definition ‘avalanche’ – which is a whole lot of snow dropping down a slope.
In her schooldays, when Anne was Head Girl, she had to punish misbehaving schoolgirls. Her favourite punishment, instead of giving lines, was to make them copy out pages from the dictionary. “That way, they’d be learning something useful too” she said. I wonder if those girls remember their lessons?
I feel Anne is a kindred spirit as she is obviously a word lover, and like me, gained a love of language from her family. Her mother introduced her and her brothers to junior crosswords when they were young. Her father liked the play on words and puns that come with cryptic crossword solving. She said “I think this sort of thing does run in families because my son, who’s a doctor, is also an author.” I must say she may be right, because in my case, my three children are all involved with working in the world of Lovatts crosswords.