John Le Carre

John Le Carre

David John Moore Cornwell (John le Carré) was born in Poole, Dorset, in 1931. He was educated at Sherbourne School, Berne University and Oxford University. After university he taught modern languages at Eton (1956-58).

He eventually went to work for the British Foreign Service in Germany. During this period he was recruited as a member of MI5.

John le Carré he published his first novel, Call for the Dead (1961). This introduced his hero George Smiley, a senior member of MI5. This was followed by other novels where he used his experiences as an intelligence officer. This included The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963), The Looking-Glass War (1965) and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974),

He later admitted his aim was to write about the intelligence world different from the one portrayed by Ian Fleming, another former MI5 officer, who had written a series of novels about James Bond: "When I first began writing, Ian Fleming was riding high and the picture of the spy was that of a character who could have affairs with women, drive a fast car, who used gadgetry and gimmickry to escape."

Other novels by le Carré included Smiley's People (1980), The Little Drummer Girl (1983), A Perfect Spy (1986), The Russia House (1989), The Secret Pilgrim (1992), The Night Manager (1993), Our Game (1995), The Tailor of Panama (1996), Single & Single (1999) and The Constant Gardener (2000).

In January 2003 le Carré published and article in The Times where he opposed the invasion of Iraq. Entitled The United States has Gone Mad, he wrote: "How Bush and his junta succeeded in deflecting America's anger from bin Laden to Saddam Hussein is one of the great public relations conjuring tricks of history."

Primary Sources

(1) Dick White on the publication of John le Carre's novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963)

He hasn't done us any good. He makes all intelligence officers look like philanderers and drunks. He's presenting a service without trust or loyalty. Where agents are sacrificed and deceived without compunction. He's getting his revenge on the old-school ties in British intelligence. He wants to show them who's on top.