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John le Carré, legendary author of spy novels including 'Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,' dies

"We have lost a great figure of English literature, a man of great wit, kindness, humor and intelligence," said a representative for le Carré, who was 89.
Image: John le Carre in Hamburg, Germany, on Oct. 16, 2017.
John le Carre in Hamburg, Germany, on Oct. 16, 2017.Christian Charisius / picture alliance via Getty Images file

John le Carré, the former spy and British espionage novelist who wrote "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," died over the weekend, a representative said Sunday. He was 89.

In a statement, Jonny Geller, the CEO of le Carré's literary agency, said le Carré died Saturday night after a short battle with pneumonia in Cornwall, in the southwest of England.

His death was not Covid-19-related, Geller said.

"Our hearts go out to his four sons, their families and to his dear wife, Jane," Geller said, adding: "His like will never be seen again, and his loss will be felt by every book lover, everyone interested in the human condition."

Le Carré, whose real name was David Cornwell, wrote 25 novels and a memoir after having worked for British intelligence beginning in 1949. Through complex plots and "beautiful prose," Geller said, le Carré "beamed a harsh light at the injustices of the world" and dominated bestseller lists.

In a 2008 interview with The Associated Press, he described himself as someone outside "the literary bureaucracy" who was far from optimistic.

"Humanity — that's what we rely on. If only we could see it expressed in our institutional forms, we would have hope then," he told the AP. "I think the humanity will always be there. I think it will always be defeated."

Among his best-known novels was the 1963 book "The Spy Who Came in From the Cold," about a spy carrying out a risky operation in Germany, where he had been based for MI6.

Others included "A Perfect Spy," "The Constant Gardener," "A Legacy of Spies" and "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy," which was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film in 2011.

His latest novel, "Agent Running in the Field," was published in October 2019.

"We have lost a great figure of English literature, a man of great wit, kindness, humor and intelligence. I have lost a friend, a mentor and an inspiration," Geller said.

The Associated Press contributed.