British spy detective John le Carré died at the age of 89, after a short illness, his lawyer said.
The author of The Spy Who Came In From The Cold and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy died of pneumonia on Saturday.
‘A Literary Giant’
Some writers paid him final and one last respect, and Stephen King called him “a great literary giant and a spirit of humanity”.
Historian Robert Harris said Le Carré, “undisputed giant of English literature” who “defined the Cold War era and fearlessly spoke truth to power”.
Booker Prize winner Margaret Atwood wrote on Twitter that his novels depicting the promoter George Smiley – described by Le Carré as a “cure” for James Bond – became “the key to understanding in the mid-20th century”.
Historian and novelist Simon Sebag Montefiore described le Carré as “the titan of English literature” and said he was “heartbroken”.
Jonny Geller, the author’s agent, said he was “an undeniable giant of English literature” who described the Cold War era and spoke the truth fearlessly “.
“We will never see someone like him again,” he said in a statement.
Mr Geller said he represented the novelist, whose real name is David Cornwell, for almost 15 years and “his loss will be felt by all book lovers, everyone interested in the human condition”.
“We have lost a great deal of English literature, a wise, kind, funny and intelligent man. I have lost a friend, a mentor and an inspiration.”
A statement shared on behalf of the author’s family said: “It is with great sadness that we have to confirm that David Cornwell – John le Carré – died of pneumonia last Saturday night after a short battle with illness.
“David is survived by his beloved wife of almost 50 years, Jane, and his sons Nicholas, Timothy, Stephen and Simon.
“We are all deeply saddened by his passing. We thank the excellent NHS team at Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro for the care and compassion shown throughout his stay. We know they share our grief.”
The statement said his death was not related to Covid-19.
The Cold War
Decades after the end of World War II in 1945, political tensions between the United States a.nd and the Soviet Union were ruled, along with their allies in the Western bloc and the Eastern bloc.
Both sides were armed with nuclear weapons, refusing to allow specific wars to take place because of the threat of total annihilation.
So until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, hostility played a role in supporting regional conflicts known as proxy wars, propaganda campaigns, psychological warfare and espionage – creating the impetus for generations of novels and films.
Many of Le Carré’s 25 works turned into films including The Constant Gardener, The Tailor of Panama and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and Night Manager became a successful BBC television series.
Smiley, his most famous character who first appeared in Call for the Dead, has been played by actors including Rupert Davies, Alec Guinness and Gary Oldman.
Oldman, who appeared in the 2011 film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, said Le Carré was “a very great writer, a true ‘owner’ of a critical, adult, complex, and masculine novel”.
Born David Cornwell in Poole, Dorset, in 1931, he wrote under the name John le Carré.
He studied at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and Oxford, before entering the field of intelligence.
After teaching at Eton for two years he joined the Foreign Office, and was originally based at the British Embassy in Bonn.
During his time there he worked in the intelligence records department, giving him access to insightful files on the operation of the secret service.
He also wrote his first novel, Call For The Dead, published in 1961.
This meant that the name of the pen was needed as foreign officials were not allowed to publish the books under their own name.
In 1963, his third novel, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, brought him worldwide fame and allowed him to write in full.
Le Carré said his article was accepted by the secretaries because “concluding correctly if they were lazy” was a “fictional story from beginning to end” but said the country’s media took a different view, deciding that the book was “not only true but a kind of revelation message from the other side”.
His career as a spy ended in 1964 after his name was one of many given to the Soviet Union by a double lawyer, an incident that incited conspiracy in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.
Two things stand out about this highly successful and successful writer.
First of all, his novels were the protagonist of the beautiful, subtle world of James Bond as portrayed by another author Ian Fleming.
Whether it was the sad reality of the hours waiting for the agent to return to West Berlin in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, or the dark world of the Cold War MI6 he described in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Carré untied the glitz to reveal a world of flawless characters, they are flawless.
Le Carré, who spent a short time with MI6, published his first novel in the same year that the Berlin Wall came up: 1961.
But long after the end of the Cold War, decades later, he went on to write about the arms trade, Big Pharma and the so-called War on Terror.
On a few occasions I met him and he seemed genuinely amazed at his amazing success.
Le Carré turned down literary honours and a knighthood, saying in a 2017 US interview that he was “so suspicious of the literary world that I don’t want its accolades”.
“And least of all do I want to be called Commander of the British Empire or any other thing of the British Empire,” he added, saying it was “emetic” or vomit-inducing.
He told CBS News’ 60 Minutes: “I do not want to stand as a person of state honor and therefore I must somehow comply with the state, and I do not want to wear these weapons.”
Le Carré described himself as “English to the core” but despised what he saw as an aggressive nationalist spirit behind Brexit.
“My England is the one that will see its place in the EU. The England that does not think it is trying to take us out of the EU, that is England I do not want to know,” he said.