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"Undisputed giant", John Le Carré dies at age 89

"Undisputed giant", John Le Carré dies at age 89

John le Carré, who was responsible for some of the most thrilling literary works, has died aged 89.

Le Carré is the mastermind behind novels The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Night Manager, which garnered critical acclaim and made him a bestseller around the world.

His family confirmed his passing on Sunday, revealing pneumonia as the cause.

He died at the Royal Cornwall Hospital on Saturday.

“We all deeply grieve his passing,” they wrote in a statement.

His longtime agent Jonny Geller described him as “an undisputed giant of English literature. He 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.”

His peers lined up to pay tribute. Stephen King wrote: “This terrible year has claimed a literary giant and a humanitarian spirit.” Robert Harris said the news had left him “very distressed … one of the great postwar British novelists, and an unforgettable, unique character.” Adrian McKinty described Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy as “quite simply the greatest spy novel ever written”, while historian Simon Sebag Montefiore called him “the titan of English literature up there with the greats … in person, captivating and so kind and generous to me and many others.”

Born as David Cornwell in 1931, Le Carré started working for the secret services while studying German in Switzerland at the end of the 1940s.

He went on to teach at Eton and later joined the British Foreign Service as an intelligence officer.

Inspired by his colleague at MI5, the novelist John Bigham, he began to publish thrillers under the pseudonym of John le Carré.