Cold War author John le Carre dies aged 89

Cold War espionage author David Cornwell, known by his pen name John le Carre, has died aged 89 after a battle with pneumonia.

Among his 25 novels were acclaimed best-sellers including Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, and The Night Manager.

Cornwell drew on his experience serving with the British intelligence services including MI6 during the Cold War in his writing.

His literary agent Jonny Geller, of Curtis Brown, said in a statement: "His like will never be seen again, and his loss will be felt by every book lover, everyone interested in the human condition.

"We have lost a great figure of English literature, a man of great wit, kindness, humour and intelligence.

"I have lost a friend, a mentor and an inspiration."

Born in 1931, Cornwell was educated at the universities of Bern, in Switzerland, and Oxford, before embarking on his undercover intelligence career, according to Curtis Brown.

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, published in 1963, brought him worldwide acclaim and he left the service to pursue writing full time.

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John le Carre
John Le Carre published his book on events in the Lebanon. Spying and intrigues set in the Middle East. (Photo by Jacob SUTTON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
March 1965: English writer and spy novelist John Le Carre. (Photo by Terry Fincher/Express/Getty Images)
British writer John le Carre at home in Cornwall in February 1983 in United Kingdom. (Photo by Jacob SUTTON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
British writer John le Carre at home in Cornwall in February 1983 in United Kingdom. (Photo by Jacob SUTTON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
British writer John le Carre at home in Cornwall in February 1983 in United Kingdom. (Photo by Jacob SUTTON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
British writer John le Carre at home in Cornwall in February 1983 in United Kingdom. (Photo by Jacob SUTTON/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Writer David Cornwall (John Le Carre) at his home Hampstead, north London. 17th March 1983. (Photo by Geoff Wilkinson/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Writer David Cornwall (John Le Carre) at his home Hampstead, north London. 17th March 1983. (Photo by Geoff Wilkinson/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
PENZANCE - JUNE 7: Writer John Le Carre (David Cornwell) poses at his home near Penzance, in Cornwall, England on June 7, 1993. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
PENZANCE - JUNE 7: Writer John Le Carre (David Cornwell) poses at his home near Penzance, in Cornwall, England on June 7, 1993. (Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images)
John Le Carre at home in Hampstead. 6th July 1993. (Photo by Andrew Fox/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
John Le Carre near his home in Hampstead. 6th July 1993. (Photo by Andrew Fox/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)
Author John Le Carre, master of the spy thrillers including such books as "The Spy who came in from the Cold". has his 16th book out. Le Carre's new book is a political sattire on the Panama Canal based in the 2000. (Photo by Kirk McKoy/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
LONDON - JANUARY 30: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) (from left to right) Writer John Le Carre and actor Ralph Fiennes attend the Evening Standard Film Awards Dinner at The Ivy on January 30, 2006 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
LONDON - OCTOBER 19: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Writer John Le Carre (C) and actress Rachel Weisz arrive at the UK Premiere of "The Constant Gardener" as the opening gala for The Times BFI London Film Festival at the Odeon Leicester Square on October 19, 2005 in London, England. The film kicks off the annual film festival, which runs from October 19 to November 3. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 13: L-R Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth and John Le Carre attend the UK premiere of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy at The BFI Southbank on September 13, 2011 in London, United Kingdom.(Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)
Actor Gary Oldman (L) poses with author John Le Carre (R) as they arrive for the British Premiere of their latest film 'Tinker Sailor Soldier Spy', in London's South Bank, on September 13, 2011. AFP PHOTO / Max Nash (Photo credit should read MAX NASH/AFP via Getty Images)
(From L) British writer John Le Carre, actor Amir El-Masry, actress Olivia Colman, British actor Hugh Laurie, French actress Elizabeth Debicki and British actor Tom Hiddleston, Danish director Susanne Bier, actor Tom Hollender pose for photographers as they arrive for a sreeening of Berlinale Special Series " The Night Manager " by Danish Susanne Bier and British David Farr screended during the 66th Berlinale Film Festival in Berlin on February 18, 2016. / AFP / John MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP via Getty Images)
Author John le Carre speaking at the presentation of his new novel "A Legacy of Spies" at the Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg, Germany, 15 October 2017. Photo: Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa (Photo by Daniel Bockwoldt/picture alliance via Getty Images)
British best-selling author John le Carre, photographed during an interview with Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) at a hotel in Hamburg, Germany, 16 October 2017. The author presented his new novel 'A Legacy of Spies' (German title: 'Das Vermaechtnis der Spione'). Photo: Christian Charisius/dpa (Photo by Christian Charisius/picture alliance via Getty Images)
John Le Carre attending the Little Drummer Girl Premiere as part of the BFI London Film Festival, at the Embankment Garden Cinema in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday October 14, 2018. Photo credit should read: Matt Crossick/PA Wire (Photo by Matt Crossick/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 14: (L-R) Florence Pugh, Michael Shannon, Park Chan-wook, John le Carre and Alexander Skarsgard attend the World Premiere of "The Little Drummer Girl" at the 62nd BFI London Film Festival on October 14, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for BFI)
British author John le Carre (David John Moore Cornwell) (R) receives the Olof Palme Award 2019 "for his engaging and humanistic opinion making in literary form regarding the freedom of the individual and the fundamental issues of mankind" at a ceremony in the Concert Hall Grünewaldsalen, on January 30, 2020 in Stockholm, Sweden. - An annual Olof Palme Prize is awarded by "The Olof Palme Memorial Fund for International Understanding and Common Security" for an outstanding achievement in the spirit of Olof Palme, awarding a diploma and 100.000 US dollars. (Photo by Claudio BRESCIANI / TT News Agency / AFP) / Sweden OUT (Photo by CLAUDIO BRESCIANI/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images)
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A statement shared on behalf of the author's family said: "It is with great sadness that we must confirm that David Cornwell – John le Carre – passed away from pneumonia last Saturday night after a short battle with the illness.

"David is survived by his beloved wife of almost 50 years, Jane, and his sons Nicholas, Timothy, Stephen and Simon.

"We all grieve deeply his passing. Our thanks go to the wonderful NHS team at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro for the care and compassion that he was shown throughout his stay. We know they share our sadness."

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