John Halpern

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John Halpern
aka 'Paul' from The Guardian
Birth name John Halpern
Born 1967
Cuckfield, Sussex, United Kingdom
Medium Cryptic Crossword Compiler
Nationality British
Years active 1979—present
Genres Cryptic crossword
Subject(s) Crosswords, British culture
Spouse Taline Halpern
Notable works and roles The Guardian Newspaper

John Halpern a.k.a. 'Paul' from The Guardian, Punk and Mudd, was born in Cuckfield, Sussex, UK in 1967, and is a cryptic crossword compiler for newspapers including The Guardian, The Independent, The Times and The Financial Times.[1]

Halpern's interest in The Guardian cryptic crossword puzzle began when he was a student in Canterbury, and he wondered if the compilers could possibly be human beings.[2] After completing a puzzle for the first time, he set about creating two of his own to send to his hero John Galbraith Graham, also known as "Araucaria", and accomplished this two and a half years later. He now writes three or four a week for a variety of publications.[3]

Having studied music and maths, Halpern became a local reporter, barman, warehouse packer, bank clerk and lab technician. He taught English in Rome, but found that hands-on examples of the present continuously kept causing him to lead his students out of the classroom, on to the street and into bars where he would put their understanding of his lesson to the test: ‘You are buying me a drink’.[2]

Halpern’s favourite clue of his own is:
To make cheese, how do you milk a Welsh hedgehog? (10)
Answer: Caerphilly.
The first clue he ever wrote for the Guardian was:
Name sewn into footballers’ underwear (8)
Answer: kNickers.[1]

John lives with his wife Taline, near the East Sussex coast.[1]

In March 2012, Halpern and Graham hosted a crossword show which was held at The Guardian offices.[4] He is working on a film and follow-up tour.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d
  2. ^ a b Guardian Cryptic Crosswords Setters Series, 2007, Guardian Books, ISBN 978-0-85265-074-5
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