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John le Carré

A Private Spy
  • A Private Spy

  • A collection of letters from John le Carré, one of the greatest British novelists of our time, and a fabulous letter writer, spanning decades from his childhood, to the Cold War to his final years

    John le Carré was one of the greatest novelists of his generation. He also had an extraordinary life. A Private Spy is the story of that life told through the voice of this masterful writer.

    We hear le Carré as a teenager and then as a young man trying to make his way in the world. There are beautiful and moving letters to le Carré's stepmother about his relationship with his fraudster father. There are letters about his first marriage and letters to his children. There are wonderfully vivid letters to great actors and great writers. There are brilliantly sharp and very funny portraits of politicians and public figures. And throughout the collection there is the clear, inimitable voice of this magnificent writer.

    By turns intimate and comic, tender and clear-sighted A Private Spy offers a rare and illuminating portrait of one of the great figures of our times.

John le Carré was born in 1931. For six decades, he wrote novels that came to define our age. The son of a confidence trickster, he spent his childhood between boarding school and the London underworld. At sixteen he found refuge at the university of Bern, then later at Oxford. A spell of teaching at Eton led him to a short career in British Intelligence (MI5&6). He published his debut novel, Call for the Dead, in 1961 while still a secret servant. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, secured him a worldwide reputation, which was consolidated by the acclaim for his trilogy Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley's People. At the end of the Cold War, le Carré widened his scope to explore an international landscape including the arms trade and the War on Terror. His memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel, was published in 2016 and the last George Smiley novel, A Legacy of Spies, appeared in 2017. He died on 12 December 2020. His posthumous novel Silverview was published in 2021.

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