David Cornwell - whose nom de plume was John le Carré

Discussion in 'Top Secret' started by Ramiles, Dec 16, 2020.

  1. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    Bodleian Libraries | One of the world's most celebrated authors, John le Carre, passes

    One of the world's most celebrated authors, John le Carre, passes (12th December 2020)

    John le Carré, one of the world's most celebrated authors, has died aged 89 after a short illness. The Bodleian Libraries offers its sincerest condolences to his family.

    Black and white image of author John le Carre

    Born in Poole in 1931, David Cornwell, whose nom de plume was John le Carré, was educated at Sherborne School and studied German literature at the University of Bern, Switzerland before moving to the University of Oxford. Le Carré's intelligence officer character of George Smiley owes something to the Reverend Vivian Green who was Rector of Lincoln College, where le Carré read Modern Languages and graduated with a First Class Honours degree.
    With a literary career spanning almost 60 years, le Carré's evocative accounts of the cold war era in novels such as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1974) and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963) were drawn in part from his own experiences working for MI5 and MI6. In later life, he drew from the enduring influence of his time as an undergraduate at Oxford with novels such as Our Kind of Traitor (2010) which features a young Oxford academic who becomes embroiled in a murky Establishment intelligence plot.
    Between 2010 and 2013, the Bodleian Libraries became the proud recipient of le Carré's literary archive, which filled a space the size of a Cornish barn and now takes up 90 metres of shelving in the libraries. Including handwritten drafts, proofs and personal papers, the archive is expected to be of great importance to future literary historians and biographers. When announcing the decision in 2011 to place his archive in the Bodleian Libraries, le Carré said, 'I am delighted to be able to do this. Oxford was Smiley's spiritual home, as it is mine. And while I have the greatest respect for American universities, the Bodleian is where I shall most happily rest.'

    Image of a handwritten note by John le Carré offering his archive to the Bodleian

    Bodley's Librarian, Richard Ovenden OBE, said on hearing the sad news of le Carré's passing:

    'I was privileged to have known David and was enormously grateful that he agreed to place his archive in the Bodleian, where students and scholars have been enjoying the insight it provides into his masterworks. He was a giant of our culture as a whole, not just to the world of letters. Few writers have produced a body of work so uniform in both quality and in critical and popular acclaim. He remained at the top of his game right up to his most recent work, Agent Running in the Field. His death leaves an unfillable gap in English literature
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2020
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  2. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

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  3. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY

    BBC Four - Mark Lawson Talks To..., John le Carre

    Mark Lawson Talks To...John le Carre...
    John le Carre converses with Mark Lawson about his fragmented childhood, life in the diplomatic service, working with Alec Guinness and his book A Most Wanted Man. Le Carre worked as an intelligence officer in the 1970s before turning to writing full time. His personal experiences during the Cold War informed a string of best-selling espionage novels including The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. He also wrote the corporate corruption thriller The Constant Gardener, which became a Oscar-winning film.


    A brief history of George Smiley

    A brief history of George Smiley
    In John le Carré's new novel, A Legacy of Spies, George Smiley makes a comeback. But how much do you know about the events that made the man? Read on to discover the story behind the spy...
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2020
  4. Ramiles

    Ramiles Researching 9th Lancers, 24th L and SRY


    John le Carré
    Irish author

    I noticed that... not just on wiki, but quite widely now... references to "John le Carré - Irish author" -

    "David John Moore Cornwell (19 October 1931 – 12 December 2020), better known by his pen name John le Carré (/ləˈkæreɪ/), was an Irish author, best known for his espionage novels."

    John le Carré - Wikipedia

    I know "According to his son Nicholas, le Carré took Irish citizenship shortly before his death."

    Though was he "an Irish author, best known for his espionage novels." ;-) :whistle:


    Biography - Early Career
    Born David John Moore Cornwell in 1931, the early years of the writer John le Carré’s career were, for many years, shrouded in secrecy. A spy for MI5 during the Cold War era, le Carré had, in fact, worked in intelligence since he was sixteen, having left the country to study languages in Switzerland, he comments: “I act like a gent but I am wonderfully badly born. My father was a confidence trickster and a gaol bird. Read A Perfect Spy.”
    While living in Berne, le Carré met an MI6 official from the British Consul with whom he maintained contact when he returned to England. He studied at Oxford where he joined MI5, becoming an officer in 1958 and later transferring to MI6 before being forced to leave the service after security leaks by the disgraced former agent Kim Philby.
    During this time he wrote and published his first three novels under the le Carré pseudonym, Call for the Dead, A Murder of Quality and The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, establishing a career as a writer of espionage thrillers which continued for over six decades.
    The Spy-master
    Most of le Carré’s early writing centres on spy-craft and the complex political and morally dubious world of the Secret Intelligence Service (‘The Circus’) during the Cold War era.
    Le Carré is probably most well-known for creating the character of George Smiley, the quintessential Cold War operative. An antidote to Fleming’s racier James Bond, Smiley is cool, thoughtful, somewhat academic and (superficially) “breathtakingly normal” with a somewhat ambivalent attitude to the Service and its efficacy.
    Smiley appears in eight of le Carré’s novels, most notably in the much-adapted Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, le Carré’s take on the exposing of the Cambridge Five in the 1960’s.
    Although le Carré has spoken publically about basing Smiley partly on the real-life spy and novelist John Bingham, he has always denied that his novels are exposés, saying “It is the stuff of dreams, not reality. Yet I am treated by the media as though I wrote espionage handbooks.”
    Beyond the Iron Curtain
    In the early 1990’s, le Carré’s fiction changed tack as he shifted his attention from the East/West spy-ring to wider political issues of the arms trade, modern conflict and drug-trafficking. This change in style is exemplified in The Night Manager, his first post-Cold-War novel, published in 1993.
    le Carré continued to write thrillers with a range of themes, often criticising the role of the Intelligence Service from within. These include The Constant Gardner, set against the backdrop of a medical experimentation scandal in Kenya, The Tailor of Panama (in part based on Graeme Greene’s Our Man in Havana) which the New York Times called ‘a tour de force in which almost every convention of the classic spy novel is violated,’ and Agent Running in the Field, which tackles the pertinent themes of Brexit and political polarisation.
    John le Carré died on 12 December 2020 at the age of 89, having established himself as a benchmark for espionage writing and an abiding influence on contemporary literature. The following year saw the posthumous publication of his final completed work Silverview, a standalone novel featuring a bookshop owner enmeshed in the sinister games of a Polish emigré.
    ‘…he invokes deep, almost religious ideas of betrayal, trust, faith, and that’s why we love it.’ - The Guardian
    Recommended Reading
    For a different take on Cold War espionage, we recommend turning first to Ian Fleming, in particular From Russia, With Love – no doubt a less nuanced picture of Cold War relations than le Carrés but no less enjoyable for that. Lionel Davidson’s Kolymsky Heights is something of a forgotten classic of the genre, a brilliantly executed thriller. We’d also recommend Ian McEwan’s novels The Innocent and Sweet Tooth, both convincing blend of human and political entanglements. For the same cool psychological kick you get from a le Carré, turn to the novels of Eric Ambler (we’d recommend starting with The Mask of Dimitrios) and the master of dramatic understatement Graham Greene, his novel Our Man in Havana is a nice, often humorous counterpoint to le Carré’s picture of Cold War politics.
    For further reading on his life and career, we would certain recommend the excellent John le Carré by the awardwinning biographer Adam Sisman.
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2022

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