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There is a staple library used by crossword solvers and setters alike and these should be considered pre-requisites to for any crossword enthusiast. In addition, I have suggested some other books and sources that I have found useful. The list is not designed to be definitive, and in some instances shows a personal preference, but will certainly be found on many solvers' and setters' shelves.
Chambers Dictionary The essential dictionary for all UK based tough cryptic crosswords, offering a wide variety of obscure, archaic and literary words. Occasionally reference will be made to the use of words not contained in Chambers - these are invariable Oxford English Dictionary (OED), or Collins (a more encyclopedic dictionary), or even occasionally Websters (a US magnum opus, which is difficult to obtain in the UK). Chambers is currently on its 12th edition and is offered as a potential prize for The Listener and Spectator Crosswords. Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (ODQ) Many thematic crosswords contain hidden phrases or quotations - most of which are commonly found in ODQ. Successive editions have brought an increase in popular culture, and a lessening of more traditional literary works. Alternatives, such as Bartletts may be of interest here. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable A veritable cornucopia of thematic material, and common reference work for a variety of crosswords, particularly in the Spectator. In addition, a good atlas (e.g. Times Atlas of the World) and biographical dictionary (possibly Chambers) should cover most other possible solutions. Bradford's Crossword Solver Dictionary There are a host of crossword solvers on the market, some are designed for 'standard cryptics', but very few for the difficult cryptics. Of these, Bradford's is widely recognised as the best of the bunch, and is currently available in its 7th edition. In the modern age, much of these materials can be found on the internet in one form or another. I would particularly recommend:- OneLook Dictionary - a search engine of dictionaries allowing the use of wildcards to search for solutions. Wikipedia - the organic on-line encyclopedia
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