UK
26/11/2013 08:29 GMT | Updated 05/02/2014 10:59 GMT

'Araucaria', Crossword Setter John Graham, Dies Aged 92

A crossword setter who left cryptic clues to announce his own illness in national newspapers has died.

The Rev John Graham, who goes by the pseudonym Araucaria, had written: ''Araucaria has 18 down of the 19, which is being treated with 13 15,'' above a cryptic crossword in the Guardian in January.

Readers who solved the puzzle discovered this meant he had cancer of the oesophagus, and was receiving palliative care.

Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said he was "the greatest crossword setter" and described his death as "very sad news".

Mr Graham compiled his first crossword for the Guardian in 1958 and his adopted name, Araucaria, came from the Latin word for the monkey puzzle tree.

He also contributed crosswords for other publications including the Financial Times, the Church Times and the 1 Across puzzle magazine, which he founded.

Born in Oxford, he read classics at King's College Cambridge before joining the RAF in 1942. He returned to King's after the Second World War to read theology. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1948.

Mr Graham told the Guardian that he decided to announce his illness in a puzzle because "it seemed the natural thing to do".

According to the newspaper he donated his oesophagus to cancer research.

Mr Graham, who lived in Somersham, Cambridgeshire, died in the early hours of this morning.