John le Carré died in Cornwall, England on Saturday December 12, 2020, aged 89. The creator of George Smiley, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, le Carré's name and books are synonymous with espionage literature. A spy as a young man, le Carré's first novels required a nom de plume which he kept long after his MI5 and MI6 career path ended, and he became a fulltime writer. His real name was David Cornwell, whose father was a con man who associated with gangsters and spent time in jail. Though there was an aura of upper class pedigree to le Carré's background, he had a childhood of uncertainty and extremes with early experiences of "clandestine survival - the whole world was enemy territory". Great training ground for espionage, and fodder for future novels.
TInker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy, A Constant Gardener, and most recently in 2019, Agent Running in the Field - are just some of le Carré's iconic novels. They were often turned into films or television series - Alec Guinness and Gary Oldman both played George Smiley in different renditions. Much has been written about John le Carré as he was erudite and elegant in person and a wonderful interviewee who spoke his mind about politics and current issues. Called "a literary giant and humanitarian spirit", he advocated to see "humanity expressed in our institutional forms". Most recently, in 2020, he won the Olof Palme Prize for "his engaging and humanistic opinion-making in the literary form regarding the freedom of the individual and the fundamental issues of mankind." Read or watch this great writer's work today to see how his novels speak to timeless issues in our world.