A Brief History of George Smiley by John Le Carré

George Smiley OBE is a fictional character created by John le Carré. Smiley is a career intelligence officer with ‘The Circus’, the British overseas intelligence agency. He is a central character in the novels Call for the Dead, A Murder of Quality, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Honourable Schoolboy, and Smiley’s People, and a supporting character in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Looking Glass War, The Secret Pilgrim and A Legacy of Spies. The character has also appeared in a number of film, television, and radio adaptations of le Carré’s books. … Short, overweight, balding, and bespectacled, Smiley is polite and self-effacing and frequently allows others to mistreat him, including his serially unfaithful wife; these traits mask his inner cunning, excellent memory, mastery of tradecraft, and occasional ruthlessness. His genius, coupled with other characters’ willingness to underestimate him, allows Smiley to achieve his goals and ultimately become one of the most powerful spies in Britain. … Smiley first appears in Call for the Dead, le Carré’s debut novel. After an introductory chapter documenting Smiley’s wartime bravery, the narrative moves to 1960, which finds the formerly heroic Smiley working a menial intelligence job, security-clearing civil servants. … Several years pass between Smiley’s appearance in The Looking Glass War, set circa 1964, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which takes place in 1973. During this period, Smiley’s position in the Circus comes to be threatened by his contemporary Bill Haydon, proteges Toby Esterhase and Roy Bland, and ambitious newcomer Percy Alleline. Alleline develops a personal feud with Control due to the latter’s class and ethnic prejudice against Percy’s Scottish heritage, prompting factions to form within the Circus, with Control, Smiley, and Peter Guillam on one side and Alleline, Haydon, Esterhase, and Bland on the other. …”
Penguin: Explore Smiley’s London
BBC: How fact met fiction in Le Carré’s secret world
Guardian: A Brief History of George Smiley by John Le Carré

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