Enigmatist (John Henderson) was born in 1963 and grew up in Cornwall, and has been setting puzzles ever since he can remember. He had his first crossword published in The Guardian in 1979, when he was fifteen.
He studied Psychology (with Maths and Linguistics) at the Universities of Hertfordshire, Aberdeen and East London, and subsequently held posts as Senior Lecturer, Senior Examiner and writer in A Level (and undergraduate) Psychology. On his 40th birthday he made the decision to make his main job his sideline, and his sideline his main job, and has been freelancing in crosswords and proof-reading ever since.
He has also been setting pub and league quizzes since 1987.
As a solver, John won the Times Crossword Championship in 1996, and holds the record for the fastest solution of a Times Championship puzzle, 2mins, 53secs. He competed in the Championship for the last time in 2010, after which he became a regular member of the Times crossword-setting team.
He sets crosswords for The Listener, The Guardian (as Enigmatist), The Independent (as Nimrod), the Financial Times (as Io) and The Daily Telegraph (as Elgar). He is also Crossword Editor of the Inquisitor crossword.
On 23 July 2010 he married Jane Teather (who, as Jetdoc, is well known as a crossword blogger at Fifteensquared). On their wedding day John's puzzles appeared in each of the Guardian, Times, Independent, FT and Telegraph Toughie (and on the following day in the Inquisitor), all with an overt or covert wedding slant.
Rather than getting a set of words by email, John prefers to meet the person(s) commissioning the puzzle, so he can get to know both them and the 'victim'. He finds that meeting makes for a faster setting process, and also that he can include more words relevant to the theme, as he's able to explore more connections.