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Daily History

October 19 1931 Novelist John le Carre is born

On October 19th 1931, David Cornwell, later known as spy novelist John le Carre, was born in Poole, England.

Le Carre’s father was a charming, dishonest con man who ran up millions of dollars in debt, snookered friends and family on phantom deals, and spent time in jail for embezzlement.

Charismatic and delightful company, Ron Cornwell kept up an extravagant show of wealth and sent his two sons, Anthony and David, to an upper-class boarding school.

David went abroad at age 16 to study German. He became involved in the British intelligence service in Austria before attending Oxford.

After Oxford, he taught French and Latin at Eton, then joined the British Foreign Service in West Germany in 1959.

Meanwhile, he married, had three sons, and wrote about his experiences in the foreign service. He published his first spy novel, Call for the Dead, in 1961.

The novel, like his second, A Murder of Quality (1962), featured spy George Smiley.

After the success of his third novel, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold (1963), which was made into a movie in 1965, Cornwell quit his government job to write full time.

Cornwell’s 1974 bestseller, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the first of a trilogy including The Honorable Schoolboy (1977) and Smiley’s People (1980), also featured George Smiley.

His 1986 novel, A Perfect Spy, was the first of his novels not submitted to the British government for approval and possible censorship, which had previously been required of him, given his former intelligence status.

It was also the one that most closely paralleled Cornwell’s own life: The plot featured a charming con man as the protagonist’s father.

This Day In History

About Craig Hill

General Manager at Craig Hill Training Services * Get an Australian diploma by studying in your own country * Get an Australian diploma using your overseas study and work experience * Diplomas can be used for work or study in Australia and other countries. * For more information go to www.craighill.net


3 thoughts on “October 19 1931 Novelist John le Carre is born

  1. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy just wonderful, thanks for the info. 😉

    Posted by charliecountryboy | October 20, 2012, 07:01
  2. Think I have read all his books … brilliant author – love spy fictions. Thanks a lot for this.

    Posted by viveka | October 21, 2012, 23:27


  1. Pingback: Call for the Dead, John LeCarré (Signet, 1962 {Penguin Audio, Narrator: Michael Jayston}) | The Archaeologist's Guide to the Galaxy.. by Thomas Evans - November 30, 2012

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