- Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy author John le Carré, who cast flawed spies on to the bleak chessboard of Cold War rivalry, has died aged 89.
- Born David Cornwell, the writer died after a short illness in Cornwall, southwestern England.
- He worked at MI5 in London before moving in 1960 to the Secret Intelligence Service, known as MI6.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy author John le Carré, who cast flawed spies on to the bleak chessboard of Cold War rivalry, has died aged 89.
David Cornwell, known to the world as John le Carré, died after a short illness in Cornwall, southwestern England, on Saturday evening.
He is survived by his wife, Jane, and four sons. The family said in a brief statement he died of pneumonia.
"Very sad to hear the news about John le Carré," said Richard Moore, the chief of Britain’s MI6 foreign intelligence agency. "A giant of literature who left his mark on MI6 through his evocative and brilliant novels."
By exploring treachery at the heart of British intelligence in spy novels, Le Carré challenged Western assumptions about the Cold War by defining for millions the moral ambiguities of the battle between the Soviet Union and the West.
Unlike the glamour of Ian Fleming’s unquestioning James Bond, Le Carré’s heroes were trapped in the wilderness of mirrors inside British intelligence which was reeling from the betrayal of Kim Philby, who fled to Moscow in 1963.
"It’s not a shooting war anymore, George. That’s the trouble," Connie Sachs, British intelligence’s resident alcoholic expert on Soviet spies, tells spy catcher George Smiley in the 1979 novel Smiley’s People.
"It’s grey. Half angels fighting half devils. No one knows where the lines are," Sachs says in the final novel of Le Carré’s Karla trilogy.