John le Carre Books

John Le Carre is the pseudonym used by British bestseller of espionage novels David John Moore Cornwell. He worked for both Secret Intelligence Service and Security Service during the 1950’s and the 1960s. He was born on October 19th, 1931 to Ronald Thomas Archibald and Olive Cornwell in Dorset, England. He was the second son, and his elder brother Tony is a former advertising executive. His younger sister Charlotte Cornwell is an English actress. Le Carre younger half brother is a retired bureau chief of The Independent newspaper Washington. In an interview, Le Carre stated that he did not know his biological mother who deserted him at the age of five years until their re-acquaintance at 21 age. His relationship with his father was a complicated one given that his father was sent to prison for insurance fraud.

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John Le Carre began formal education at St. Andrew School, near Pangbourne in Berkshire. However, he withdrew from the school due to harsh English public school regime. From 1948 to 1949, he attended the University of Bern in Switzerland where he studied foreign languages. He was recruited in the Intelligence Corps of the British Army in stationed in Austria in 1950, serving as a German language questioner for the people who crossed the Iron Curtain. He returned to England in 1952, where he furthered his studies at Lincoln College, Oxford where he also worked undercover agent for the British Security Service, gathering information about possible Soviet Agents. When his father was declared Bankrupt, Le Carre started teaching at boys preparatory school but later returned to Oxford where he graduated with a first class Honors in Bachelor of Arts degree. He then lectured Germany and French at Eton College for two consecutive years before becoming an MI5 officer in 1958. He conducted interrogations, ran agents, effected break-ins and tapped telephone lines.

John Le Carre began writing his first novel Call for the Dead (1961) while being an active MI5 officer; he was inspired by Lord Clanmorris who wrote crime novel under the pen name George Smiley. He wrote A Murder of Quality (1962), and later in 1963, he wrote The Spy Who Came in from the Cold. He left the service in 1964 to dedicate his time to writing novels.


Le Carre has won and many of his novels nominated for various awards. For instance, A Delicate Truth was listed in 2013 Booklist Starred Review. The Little Drummer Girl was nominated for the 1984 Edgar Allan Award while The Spy Who Came in from the Cold won the 1965 Edgar Allan Poe Award.


Ten of John Le Carre novels have been adapted into films. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold was adapted into a film featuring Richard Burton as the lead character and directed by Martin Ritt.

Call for the Dead, was adapted into a 1966 British espionage thriller movie by the name The Deadly Affair. Sidney Lumet directed the film, and James Mason played the role of Charles Dobbs. The Tailor of Panama was adapted into a 2001 Irish American spy thriller movie by the same name.


Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: This is a modern classic novel in which the author imagines and creates a complete vision of a secret world; the book starts Georges Smiley chess match of wits and wills with Karla his soviet peer.

It is now evidently clear that a mole implanted years ago by Moscow Centre has found his way into the highest ranks of British intelligence. His betrayal has already blown up some vital covers and operations and its best networks. It is also evident that the double agent is one of his kind, and to reveal the mole, George Smiley is assigned to that task. Moreover, when identified the traitor must be destroyed.

The Spy Who Came In from the Cold: In this third novel from the bestseller, a book that won the author international acclaim, Le Carre created the world that has never been witnessed in any suspense fiction. With years of experience from the British intelligence, the author brings into the limelight some sinister dealings of international intelligence in a tale of a British agent who longs to put an end to his career but take one final chilling mission.

When the last officer under his command is murdered, and Alec Leamas is called to London, he only hopes to come in from the cold forever. However, his spymaster has other plans for him. Determined to bring an end to the German Intelligence, Control sends Alec into the hands of the enemy to use his skills and ultimately achieve success.