IN the mid-1970s the editors of The Atlantic Monthly decided to add a new feature to the magazine -- one that would engage readers on an utterly different level. They put out the word that The Atlantic sought to introduce a monthly puzzle, and a rivulet of crosswords, rebuses, and idiosyncratic word games began to trickle in. Most were too easy, or humdrum: The Atlantic's readers deserved a challenging puzzle from whose solution they could derive well-earned satisfaction. At last such a puzzle appeared -- a clever and intriguing crossword in the style known as cryptic (so called because the real meaning of its clues is veiled). It became "Short and Sweet," the first Atlantic Puzzler, published in September of 1977.
The authors of "Short and Sweet," Emily Cox and Henry Rathvon, have delivered puzzles of increasing deviousness and sophistication every month since. "Scoreboard," in this issue, completes their twentieth year as Atlantic contributors -- and, we are delighted to say, they show no signs of flagging.
Cox, a native of Pennsylvania, attended Tufts University. Rathvon grew up on Long Island and graduated from Bennington College. Cox was working for a consulting firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Rathvon was a doorman on Boston's Commonwealth Avenue, giving free rein to his antic brain, when the two met and joined forces, in 1975. They began making puzzles as a hobby, and discovered cryptics only a few months before submitting "Short and Sweet." Soon they had quit their jobs to pursue puzzle-making full time.
Since 1985 their crossword puzzles have appeared in The Boston Globe on alternate Sundays. They also create puzzles regularly for the Dell Champion magazines, George, Roll Call (a newspaper for and about members of Congress), and Attaché (a U.S. Airways in-flight magazine). Their most recent book is (1995).
Cox and Rathvon live in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Armed with an arcane reference library that includes Animal Quotations and Herbst's Backword Dictionary, they spend up to two weeks crafting each Atlantic Puzzler. They are voracious consumers of music -- Chicago blues, Cajun two-steps, Congolese rhumbas -- and describe their longtime devotion to the Boston Red Sox as "an addiction worse than wordplay."
The Atlantic Monthly; August 1997; 77 North Washington Street; Volume 280, No. 2; page 4.