British novelist John le Carré, whose genre-defining espionage novels including The Spy Who Came in From the Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy inspired numerous film and television adaptations, is dead at the age of 89. According to his literary agent Jonny Geller, le Carré died on the night of December 12 in Cornwall after a brief bout of pneumonia. “John le Carré was an undisputed giant of English literature,” Geller wrote in a statement. “He defined the Cold War era and fearlessly spoke truth to power in the decades that followed.”
Born David Cornwall, le Carré was born in England in 1931, and first worked in foreign Intelligence for the British Army while studying foreign languages abroad. Le Carré then worked covertly for MI5 and eventually MI6. While working in intelligence, he published his first works of fiction in the early 1960s under the pseudonym John le Carré. Over the six decades that le Carré was active as an author, he published ten novels in his George Smiley series and released a number of standalone books, including The Little Drummer Girl, The Night Manager, The Constant Gardener, and A Most Wanted Man. Most recently, le Carré served as an executive producer on Susanne Bier’s Emmy and Golden Globe Award–winning Night Manager series and the Florence Pugh–led Little Drummer Girl adaptation. Le Carré is survived by his wife, Jane, and his four sons.