Solitaire games date back to the 18th century, with the first reference occurring in a German text (Das neue Königliche L'Hombre-Spiel, 1783). The first mentions of solitaire seem to indicate it was first practiced as a competitive card game, while now the single player games are most popular.
Despite many games being named after Napoleon (e.g. Napoleon at St Helena, Emperor, Napoleon’s Heart, …), Ross and Healey have shown that he did not play solitaire while he was exiled.
Because many books about patience games were published in Sweden in the first half of the 19th century, it is believed that Sweden is the ultimate origin of the game. In English society, solitaire gained popularity thanks to a book called Illustrated Games of Patience, written by Lady Adelaide Cadogan. The exact date when the first version was written is unknown, but the second version appeared in 1874 and this version is still sold today!
In modern history, the addition of solitaire to the Windows operating system made solitaire gain broader popularity.