Solitaire is a game that's known by another name in Britain - while in North America it's known as Solitaire, in Britain it's known as Patience. The game, regardless of what name you know it by is for a single player. Solitaire has a history that's harder to trace, though it is believed that the game was initially played with Tarot Cards before it was introduced as Solitaire in Italy in the 1300's and spread around Northern Europe and had rules first recorded during the Napoleonic Era.
It's believed that Napoleon himself might have played solitaire, since it's a game that can be played alone, when at sea, or as he was, on an island surrounded by ocean basking in solitude. The end of the 16th century is also when a number of card games were invented, and it marks the period when the Ace could be used not only as a low card with a face value of one, but also a high card that could be used as an 11 as well as a 1. While this card ranking was applied during this period, it's believed during this time is when Solitaire was also given its name.
Books and other publications in Solitaire began appearing in the 19th century, including a book by Lady Adelaide Cadogan which is believed to be the first book to discuss the rules and strategies involved specifically with Solitaire and Patience games. The book was written following the Civil War, and it's still available today! It's possible other books were written prior in languages other than in English, but this is the one that's been highly recognized as writing the rules about Solitaire.
Various forms of Solitaire were invented in strange places! Bill Beers who has been credited with creating Cribbage Solitaire was in a mental asylum when he invented this variety to play with other prisoners, even though traditional cards couldn't be used since they were considered a weapon. Solitaire has also been engrained in history through literature and other documentation. Spider Solitaire in particular has been noted as a favorite of Franklin D Roosevelt, and it's been mentioned in the novel 'The Gentleman in the Parlour' by Somerset Maugham. Solitauer has also been featured in Charles Dickens' 'Great Expectations', Dostoevsky's 'The Brother's Karamazov'.
World Renowned Casino in Saratoga owned by Mr. Canfield invented the game that's now known as Klondike. The casino game allowed players to purchase cards for $50 and in turn receive $5 for each card they were able to lay down on the foundation area of the table. Klondike is now the version of Solitaire that is most often referred to strictly as 'Solitaire' and was one of the more popular games; although more recently, with so many other varieties, Klondike Solitaire has made way to some degree to other versions of Solitaire since it's one of the hardest varieties to win at.
Solitaire is of course a game that everyone has heard of in some way shape and form. Beyond its appeal as a physical card game, Solitaire has also been featured on computer operating systems as standard software. Windows has had one version of Solitaire while Mac has featured another over a number of years, which has exposed Solitaire to an even great number of people. It's also been adopted by many casinos, so very few people who play cards don't have some idea of what solitaire is all about.