David Cornwell, a best-selling British spy novelist better known as John le Carre, has passed on at the age of 89.


According to NAN, Jonny Geller, his agent who confirmed the news, said he breathed his last on Saturday night.

Geller described him as “an undisputed giant of English literature who defined the cold war era and fearlessly spoke truth to power in the decades that followed.”

“I have lost a mentor, an inspiration and most importantly, a friend. We will not see his like again,” he added.


According to a statement issued by the family, Cornwell died as a result of a short battle with pneumonia.

“It is with great sadness that we must confirm that David Cornwell – John le Carré – passed away from pneumonia last Saturday night after a short battle with the illness. David is survived by his beloved wife of almost 50 years, Jane, and his sons Nicholas, Timothy, Stephen and Simon,” the statement read.

John le Carre became wildly popular for his thriller novels, which touched on his real-life experiences as a spy during the cold war. His third novel ‘The Spy Who Came in from the Cold’ made him a bestseller across the globe.


He was born in 1931 in Dorset, England. His mother was an actress who left the family when he was five years old. His father was a con artist who spent time behind bars between money-making schemes, and later on, sometimes pretended to be his famous writer son in order to impress women.

Cornwell studied in Bern, Switzerland, and Oxford, England, before serving in the British intelligence services during the cold war. He decided to publish his first novel ‘Call for the Dead’ in 1961 under a pseudonym.

He later quit the service and eventually went on to write 25 novels including ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ and ‘The Night Manager’, some of which were adapted to film.

A central character was George Smiley, the disillusioned master spy, who was betrayed by his wife and suffered from the ruthless reality of his line of work.


The fall of the iron curtain changed the writer’s perspective: his books shifted to be about arms dealing, the machinations of pharmaceutical corporations, the war on terror or the Russian mafia.

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