Frances Mabel Hansen had a knack for word play. She could take an original poem or a famous piece of literature and turn it into a complex crossword puzzle.
The New Jersey native never really had an interest in crosswords until the mid-1950s when she began casually solving them. The New York Times rejected the first puzzle she created in 1964. Undaunted, Hansen spent the next eight months writing a crossword based on Lewis Carroll’s book, “Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There.” The newspaper published this literary puzzle at the end of that year.
Although Hansen never attended college, her crosswords later appeared in The Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and in books published by Dell, Random House and Simon & Schuster. A charter member of the American Crossword Puzzle Constructors Hall of Fame, Hansen was particularly adored for her Christmas crosswords. Her final Yuletide puzzle will run in The New York Times on Dec. 25, 2004.
Hansen died on July 9 from complications of a stroke. She was 85.
Complete Some of Hansen’s Puzzles