Henry Ernest Dudeney

Born: 10 April 1857 in Mayfield, Sussex, England
Died: 24 April 1930 in Lewes, Sussex, England

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Henry Ernest Dudeney learnt to play chess at a young age and became interested in chess problems. From the age of nine he was composing problems and puzzles which he published in a local paper. Although he only had a basic education, he had a particular interest in mathematics and studied mathematics and its history in his spare time.

Dudeney worked as a clerk in the Civil Service from the age of 13 but continued to study mathematics and chess. He began to write articles for magazines and joined a group of authors which included Arthur Conan Doyle. He was doing well publishing mathematical puzzles under the pseudonym 'Sphinx'.

In 1884 Dudeney married and his wife, who wrote full length novels which proved popular helped made the family very well off financially.

Sam Loyd started sending his puzzles to England in 1893 and a correspondence started between him and Dudeney. The two were the main creators of mathematical puzzles and recreations of their day and it was natural that they should exchange ideas. Of the two Dudeney showed the more subtle mathematical skills. He sent a large number of his puzzles to Loyd and became very upset when Loyd began to publish them under his own name.

In [4] Newing describes how one of Dudeney's daughters:-

... recalled her father raging and seething with anger to such an extent that she was very frightened and, thereafter, equated Sam Loyd with the devil.
Dudeney contributed to the Strand Magazine for over 30 years and his very popular collection of mathematical puzzles Modern Puzzles was published in 1926.

After Dudeney's death his wife helped edit a collection of his puzzles Puzzles and Curious Problems (1931) and later on she again helped edit a second collection A Puzzle Mine.

References [1] and [2] show that Dudeney's puzzles are still of interest to many mathematicians. In [1] a generalisation of Problem 229 in H E Dudeney's 536 puzzles and curious problems is discussed. In [2] the following problem of Dudeney posed first in 1905 and appearing in Amusements in mathematics (1915) is discussed.

Is it possible to seat n people at a round table on (n-1)(n-2)/2 occasions so that each person has the same pair of neighbours exactly once.
A proof is given in [2] for n even, but the case of n odd still appears to be open.

References (4 books/articles)

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JOC/EFR April 1997