As we publish all of le Carre's work in Penguin Modern Classics for the first time, a special look for the books featuring his iconic character, George Smiley.
John le Carre 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 Carre 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.
Intelligent, thrilling, surprising ... makes most cloak-and-dagger
stuff taste of cardboard. * Sunday Telegraph *
Brilliant. Realistic. Constant suspense. * Observer *
The greatest spy novelist of all time ... astounding works of the imagination. -- Jake Kerridge * Daily Telegraph *
Brilliant, popular, intelligent, thrilling, suspenseful, angry, original, masterful writing. Can't be topped. -- Armando Iannucci
An extraordinary writer who brought literary lustre and lived insight to the spy yarn. -- Ian Rankin
One of those writers who will be read a century from now. -- Robert Harris
His Smiley novels are key to understanding the mid-20th century. -- Margaret Atwood
What Joseph Conrad started, John le Carre enshrined and made modern. That is the real achievement of his great novels and why they will endure ... we should see him as our contemporary Dickens. -- William Boyd * New Statesman *