The Spy Who Came In for the Gold

Meet John le Carré, alias David Cornwell

In its present emergency, Britain is no longer represented by the Lion and Unicorn. Its new emblem is an owl. His name is George Smiley and he is by all standards a most incongruous symbol. The man is a perpetual cuckold. He is portly, rumpled, bespectacled, with a tendency to puff when ascending stairs and to polish his glasses with his tie. He is donnish and vague. He is also the premier spy of his time.

Which seems fitting. Smiley's creator, John le Carré, 45, is the premier...

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