TLS Crossword 1146 by Myrtilus – October 14, 2016 – The Great British Bard-Off

It is Myrtilus, not Talos that fell to me this time, but I think they have a similar, praiseworthy knack for producing crosswords that are of almost exactly the same level of cryptic complexity as the main Times puzzle, but with a healthy smattering of literary reference without. If you have a reasonable acquaintance with Shakespeare and a vague idea of the literary landmarks of the 19th century there is no reason why you should be intimidated by anything here, and indeed there are a lot more modern allusions too, for the young whippersnappers among us.

The four fifteen-word solutions are all very nicely constructed and make for an excellent framework upon which the rest of this excellent and artistic puzzle is draped. Thanks again, Myrtilus, for the edification and entertainment.


1 A Roman general: one that’s riveting for the audience (7)
AGRIPPA – homophone of “a gripper”
a real historical personage, of course, but one who turns up in Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra.

5 A single London novelist’s the subject of an autobiography (7)
ONESELF – a single London novelist = one (Will) Self

9 A play’s resonant thread involved not gold or silver (7,3,5)
RICHARD THE THIRD – RICH [resonant] + (THREAD*) [“involved”] + THIRD [not gold nor silver, i.e. taking the bronze]
Bringing our bard-count to two, only three clues in!

10 A Dame’s range that ended too soon (6)
AGATHA – AGA [range] + THA{t} [“ended too soon”]
I assume this Dame to be Agatha Christie. Bit familiar if so.

11 Stick up for Trainspotting’s start getting offensive (8)
PROTRUDE – PRO [for] + T{rainspotting’s} [“start”] getting RUDE [offensive]
The Trainspotting 2 trailer just started doing the rounds and looks quite good! If you like that sort of thing.

13 Warn a model about Mrs Beddows? (10)
Mrs Beddows is the first woman alderman in Winifred Holtby’s South Riding, a novel of which I know little, having been out of the country for the 2011 BBC adaptation.

14 Verses rejected based on content (4)
ODES – hidden reversed [“rejected…content”] in {ba}SED O{n}

16 He tested loyalties, switching sides to non-fiction (4)
LEAR – {R}EA{L} [non-fiction], with the R and the L swapping places
Obviously Shakespeare’s Lear tries to make his daughters compete over who could be the most fawningly filial to him, with disastrous results. Bard-Count: 3

17 It’s not Fair Isle, Bond’s last boat raced around (4-6)
DARK-HAIRED – I [Isle], with D ARK HARED [{bon}D’s “last” | boat | raced] around that
Not sure I can quite picture James Bond in a Fair Isle jumper…?

20 Ganymede’s staff with nails hammered in (8)
ROSALIND – ROD [staff], with (NAILS*) [“hammered”] inside
Rosalind disguised herself as Ganymede in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. Bard-Count: 4

21 Artist like Bosse: French and pricey (6)
ETCHER – ET CHER [“French” for: and | pricey]
Abraham Bosse, d. 1676. Did that splendid frontispiece for Hobbes’ Leviathan.

23 He compiled sagas from broken urns or lost ruins (6,9)
d. 1241. Author of the Prose Edda and the Heimskringla.

24 Madagascan natives consent to help from pirates (3-4)
AYE-AYES – double def with AYE-AYES as in “piratical affirmatives”
My, with what big eyes those aye-ayes eye…

25 Stockings removed last by Alexei’s lover. O Lord! (7)
HOSANNA – HOS{e} [stockings “removed last”] by ANNA [Alexei’s lover]
That would be Anna Karenina and the dashing Alexei Vronsky, of course.


1 Two articles about Doctor Fleming, perhaps make one doubly confused? (7)
ADRIANA – A A [two articles] about DR IAN [Doctor | Fleming perhaps]
Adriana was confused by her husband Antipholus’ twin brother in Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. Bard-Count: 5

2 One ruined by Chancery nonsense and rhetoric about estates? (7,8)
RICHARD CARSTONE – (AND RHETORIC*) [“nonsense”] about CARS [estates?]
Richard Carstone is one of the wards of Jarndyce in Dickens’ Bleak House, but sadly the Boz-Count has no hope of catching up, being 5-1 down already.

3 They get steamy. That’s what Mellors was after! (8)
POACHERS – double def of, pans for cooking eggs, and a gameskeeper’s marks
Mellors was Lady Chatterley’s Lover, but his actual day job was being her gamekeeper.

4 A parent of Maisie who knew a princess (4)
AIDA – A + IDA [The mother of Maisie in “What Maisie Knew”]
Referencing the late 19th century Henry James novel and Verdi opera.

5 This girl’s supporting books, concealing bad ratings (5,5)
OTHER RANKS – HER’S [this girl’s] supporting O.T. [books], concealing RANK [bad]

6 What’s left of Manderley? (6)
ESTATE – an estate is what’s left in a will, or a country estate the likes of Manderley
Manderley is Maxim de Winter’s estate in Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca, and in fact nothing at all to do with Nellie the Elephant, whose destination I genuinely thought to be the same place when I was a small child.

7 Sleuth, unnerved stumbling across island murder mystery (4,5,3,3)
EVIL UNDER THE SUN – (SLEUTH UNNERVED*) [“stumbling”] across I [island]
An excellent mystery by Dame 10ac beautifully &litted by this clue; it definitely takes place on an island at any rate.

8 They’re not still parts in The Country Wife (7)
FIDGETS – double def with Sir Jasper and Lady Fidget
That well-known 1675 Restoration comedy by Mr William Wycherley.

12 Old German novelist taken in by wine’s special features (5,5)
ROMAN NOSES – O MANN [old | German novelist] taken in by ROSE’S [wine’s]
Thomas Mann, 1875-1955, Death In Venice, &c.

15 He’s tormented us, but beat a Chess Champion first (8)
TANTALUS – US, but TAN TAL [beat | a Chess Champion] first
Greek mythological figure, condemned to compete in the Times Crossword Championships every year without a pen for eternity.

16 Richardson’s girl topped Pasternak’s (7)
LARISSA – {c}LARISSA [“topped”]
The heroine of Samuel Richardson’s novel most famous for its eye-watering wordcount; Larissa who grows up to be Lara in Doctor Zhivago.

18 Eliot’s ward loved to rise around noon (7)
DERONDA – reverse ADORED [loved “to rise”], around N [noon]
Daniel Deronda is the ward of Sir Hugo Mallinger in Eliot’s 1876 novel.

19 End cut from X-rated Shaft DVD (3-3)
BLU-RAY – BLU{e} [“end cut from” X-rated] + RAY [shaft]
Will make a nice double bill with Trainspotting 2.

22 A Gaskell heroine shows fidelity except for one time (4)
RUTH – {t}RUTH [fidelity “except for” one of its Ts (for time)]
Ruth Hilton is the heroine of an 1853 Elizabeth Gaskell novel called, wait for it, Ruth.

3 comments on “TLS Crossword 1146 by Myrtilus – October 14, 2016 – The Great British Bard-Off”

  1. It takes something very special to produce clues of the calibre of the two long downs, both perfectly sensible sentences relating to the answers required, but with elegant and authentic word play unobtrusively in the mix. I would venture that 2dn is the best &lit I’ve seen, generously triggering the notion that Bleak House is involved somewhere.
    As I recall, TANTALUS was the only answer I put in without breaking it down, Tal not leaping out as a chess champion and Tantalus leaping out with the word “tormented”. My last, DARK HAIRED, one of those which held me up for a unaccountably long time.
    I was a bit disconcerted by the crossing Richards, but hey, another fine Myrtilus creation, and another informative and cheerful blog, for both of which many thanks
  2. It’s all been said already!

    I was unusually organised and wrote a brief comment right after solving this one:

    A much quicker than usual solve for me but extremely enjoyable. And it would have been a rare Google-free TLS solve but for the saga man. I really had no idea where to put the vowels in that one.

    The two long downs definitely stood out. Great stuff.

    Thanks, Myrtilus and Verlaine. Oh, I don’t know if James Bond has ever been caught in a Fair Isle sweater but he did wear a rather cosy looking woolly jumper for the Scottish scenes in Skyfall. Very sensible.

  3. Tantalus was the nom de plume of the long-time setter of the TLS puzzles Donald Yerrill who died this July aged 92. Praxiteles also had a clue (1A) in tribute to him in puzzle 1141 September 9th. Good puzzle this one.

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