Legendary thriller writer John le Carré has died at the age of 89, his family and his longtime literary agent confirmed in a statement Sunday.
The author, who was born David Cornwell, died of pneumonia — not related to COVID-19 — at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro on Saturday night, his family said.
Le Carré, a British intelligence officer turned spy novelist whose most popular works include Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Night Manager, and The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, "dominated the bestseller lists and review pages with his monumental body of work... for six decades," his agent Jonny Geller said.
"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, humor, and intelligence," Geller said.
Le Carré was born on Oct. 19, 1931, in Poole, southwest England. His association with spycraft began at the age of 18 in 1950, when he fulfilled his compulsory military service in the army's intelligence unit, interrogating Eastern Bloc escapees. While completing his degree at Oxford, he secretly worked undercover for MI5, attempting to identify Soviet spies among the student body.
After graduation, he taught at the prestigious Eton College for two years before officially joining the domestic intelligence agency MI5 in 1958. In 1960, he transferred to the international intelligence agency MI6 and was stationed on the front lines of the Cold War.
He wrote and published his first three books while working as a secret agent, but his identity was revealed when his third novel, The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, became an international bestseller in 1963. He worked as a full-time author for the rest of his life.
Authors and admirers of Le Carré's work paid tribute to him on Twitter.
Le Carré is survived by his wife, Jane, and sons Nicholas, Timothy, Stephen, and Simon.