The Origins of Solitaire

It may surprise many readers that the origins of solitaire are still debated today, and therefore are not comprehensively known fully. Many people have speculated that the layouts in solitaire came from the layouts of tarot cards, which have been long used for fortune telling and divination. The first we know of printed references were those that appeared in the late 16th Century in northern Europe, with the game arriving in France in the early 17th century. It was reported that Napolean Bonaparte was known to have spent time playing the solitaire during his exile at St. Helena in 1816, and the game of solitaire or patience as it is known in Europe, then became a popular pastime and hobby with the population of France not long after. Many of the terms that are still sometimes today used in the game (e.g. tableau) and many names of solitaire games there selves (e.g. Rouge et Noir, La Belle Lucia, Coquette, etc.) originate from France. Also many of the early books on the subject are also of French origin.


One of The earliest publications in England (1874) was Lady Codogan’s Illustrated Games of Patience, William Dick’s Games of Patience in 1883, and Professor Hoffman’s Illustrated Book of Patience Games which was published in 1892. Meanwhile in America, Lady Cadogan’s Illustrated Games of Solitaire or Patience only appeared as late as 1914. More recent publications include, The Complete book of Solitaire and Patience Games by Albert Morehead and Geoffrey Mott-Smith, which was first published in England (1949), which believe it or not is still in print to this day, also David Parlett’s Book of Patience (published by Penguin Books) are the most definitive and popular references to solitaire games, still today.


In the present, solitaire holds a stronghold as a beloved pastime for many people. Its requirements to play are simply a deck of cards, a flat surface, and a few rules; which are simple enough so that nearly anybody can play- novice or expert. Solitaire is but a simple pleasure that goes back to a time when the world was a great deal less complicated and rushed. Solitaire, whether played the original way by hand, or on the most up to date computer, is a great reliever of stress and a valuable mind exercise, more popular now than ever before through history.


The game Solitaire is of course now one of the most widely available card games in the world due to the presence of it on nearly every PC ever made. This game is therefore available to millions worldwide at the click of a button, and its worldwide presence on computers proves that this great game is simple, accessible and most importantly fun. The history of Solitaire on computers can be found in another card games article exclusively here on