"The Rev John Graham, who compiled crosswoards for the Guardian for over 50 years and who was better known to readers by his pseudonym, Araucaria, has died aged 92.

Graham revealed in a puzzle in January this year that he was dying of cancer, in a cryptic crossword that included a set of special instructions: "Araucaria," it said, "has 18 down of the 19, which is being treated with 13,15".

Those who solved the puzzle found the answer to 18 was cancer, to 19 oesophagus, and to 13,15 palliative care. The solutions to some of the other clues were: Macmillan, nurse, stent, endoscopy, and sunset.

Graham, who compiled his first crossword for the Guardian in 1958 and adopted his pseudonym from the Latin for monkey puzzle tree, died in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Asked why he had decided to reveal details of his illness in a crossword, Graham said: "It seemed the natural thing to do, somehow."

Araucaria's last puzzle for the Guardian, the prize crossword no 26,107, published on 16 November, also had some hidden meanings.

The solution for 18 down, "Warning not to outstay welcome I encountered in African country (4,2,2)", was: time to go."


John Plunkett. The Guardian, 26 novembre 2013.