Bestselling British writer, author of espionage novels John le Carre, (original name David Cornwell) has died of pneumonia at the age of 89 on 12th December, as per his literary agency the Curtis Brown Group, representing the interests of the writer. The literary agent Jonny Geller who represented him for 15 years tweeted about David Cornwell’s demise on 14th December. Cornwell is survived by his wife Jane and his four sons.
“His work was read and loved all over the world for six decades. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold in 1963 made him the most famous spy writer in the world. His greatest character – George Smiley – appeared in several novels including the Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy & Smileys People,” wrote Jonny Geller in the official statement.
David Cornwell in his youth had worked for the British intelligence service MI6 and counterintelligence MI5. He wrote several dozen short stories and 25 spy novels (two of them were autobiographical), translated into dozens of languages. The most known of his novels are ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold’, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Night Manager. His last novel, Agent Running in the Field, was published in October 2019.
The first three of his novels were published when he was serving in intelligence agencies under the pseudonym John le Carre which he retained in his writing career. David Cornwell was awarded Germany’s Goethe Medal in 2011. He had reportedly turned down an honour from Queen Elizabeth II and wanted his books not be considered for literary prizes. Many of his novels have been made into movies.
David Cornwell displayed an affinity towards the German language and culture. He studied German at Oxford University and is known to have used his linguistic skills during his spying career during the Cold War. He worked under the cover as the second secretary at the British Embassy. Later he taught German at a college in southern England for two years. His books display his passion for German culture. The character of George Smiley is known for his affinity for German baroque music and the literature of Thomas Mann and Hermann Hesse.
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