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John Galbraith Graham
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Author
    (February 16, 1921-November 26, 2013)
    Born in Oxford, England, United Kingdom
    Anglican priest and crossword compiler
    Best-known for devising cryptic crosswords for 'The Guardian' under the pseudonym 'Araucaria' (the Latin name for the monkey-puzzle tree)
    Created a new crossword format, the 'alphabetic jigsaw,' in which the grid has no numbers, the clues are listed in alphabetical order of their solution, and the answers are to be placed 'jigsaw-wise, however they may fit'
    Named a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to the newspaper industry (2005)
    He turned to compiling crosswords fulltime after he was suspended from clerical duties for divorcing his first wife.
    He did a themed crossword about the Spice Girls.
    He said, 'You can be reading a beautiful poem and then something occurs to you in the middle -- that this could be a big part of a crossword clue. And of course, the enjoyment of the poem is spoilt completely.'
    At eight, he was regularly finishing the 'Times' crossword before breakfast.
    During WWII, he was in a bomber that was shot down over Italy and was sheltered from the Germans by a local family until Allied forces arrived.
    One fan wrote, 'No other setter comes near to attaining his fusion of knowledge, originality, humor and consistency.'
    Probably his most famous clue was 'Poetical scene has surprisingly chaste Lord Archer vegetating.' The answer, 'The Old Vicarage, Grantchester,' was (a) an anagram of the last four words in the clue; (b) the title of a poem by Rupert Brooke; and (c) the residence where Jeffrey Archer was lying low after a sex scandal.
    He announced his diagnosis with esophogical cancer in a puzzle with the note 'Araucaria has 18 down of the 19,' commenting 'It seemed the natural thing to do somehow.' (January 11, 2013)

Credit: C. Fishel


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