John le Carré, Dead at 89, Defined the Modern Spy Novel


Another obituary.

In 1947, a 16-year-old David Cornwell left the British boarding school system where he’d spent many unhappy years and ended up in Switzerland, where he studied German at the University of Bern—and caught the attention of British intelligence. As the restless child of an estranged mother and a con-man father, and a precocious student of modern languages to boot, the young wayfarer was a natural recruitment target for the security services, which scooped him up in the late 1940s to be “a teenaged errand boy of British Intelligence,” as he put it in his 2016 memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel. Over the next 15 years, those little errands would continue and grow, furnishing Cornwell with the material that would fill the whopping 25 spy novels he wrote under the pen name John le Carré.

The complete article

Ted Scheinman — Smithsonian

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