The head of MI6 has paid tribute to “brilliant” British author John le Carré – the writer of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Constant Gardener – who has died aged 89.
Richard Moore said the novelist’s “evocative” work had left its mark on the intelligence service.
Tributes have been pouring in for the “literary giant” who died after a short battle with pneumonia.
Mr Moore tweeted: “Very sad to hear the news about #JohnLeCarre.
“A giant of literature who left his mark on #MI6 through his evocative & brilliant novels. My thoughts are with his family, friends & fans. Condolences from all at the #RiverHouse.”
Fellow authors Robert Harris and Stephen King were among those to join the tributes.
Mr Harris told Sky News: “I think he will be one of those writers who will be read a century from now, long after a lot of the rest of us, I’m afraid, are forgotten. He was a giant.
“With The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, he really invented a new genre of spy fiction, that is a classic of popular fiction.
“It’s an incredibly engrossing tale and also very bleak, and it completely transformed really the writing of spy fiction.
“He’s one of those writers who… also penetrated popular culture. That’s a great rarity and I’m not sure we’ll see the like of him again.”
Mr King tweeted: “This terrible year has claimed a literary giant and a humanitarian spirit.”
Actor Gary Oldman, who starred in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, posted a tribute saying le Carré was “a very great author, the true ‘owner’ of the serious, adult, complicated, spy novel – he actually owned the genre… He was generous with his creativity and always a true gentleman”.
The Handmaid’s Tail author, Margaret Atwood, tweeted that le Carré’s Smiley novels were the “key to understanding the mid-20th century”, while historian Simon Sebag Montefiore called him “the titan of English literature up there with the greats”.
Some of le Carré’s novels which were made into films included The Tailor Of Panama, filmed in 2001 starring Pierce Brosnan, The Constant Gardener, filmed in 2005 starring Ralph Fiennes and Rachel Weisz, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, filmed in 2011 starring Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy.
His first post-Cold War novel was The Night Manager, published in 1993 and later adapted into a BBC TV series.
Le Carré, whose real name was David Cornwell, was born in Dorset in 1931.
After leaving university, he taught at prestigious boarding school Eton for a spell before joining MI5 and later transferring to MI6.
He began writing while working for the secret service, inspired to a large extent by fellow writer John Bingham, who was the basis for le Carré’s most enduring character George Smiley.
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