<iframe src="//www.googletagmanager.com/ns.html?id=GTM-K3L4M3" height="0" width="0" style="display:none;visibility:hidden">

Lead book review

The real subject of John le Carré’s novels is his conman father Ronnie

Adam Sisman brings admirable clarity to le Carré’s murky world of espionage, but there remains a mystery about his lifelong fixation with his father

29 October 2015

9:00 AM

29 October 2015

9:00 AM

John le Carré: The Biography Adam Sisman

Bloomsbury, pp.652, £25, ISBN: 9781408827925

‘Have you got over your father yet?’ the 26-year-old David Cornwell was asked by MI5’s head of personnel when he joined the agency in the spring of 1958. And the answer, more than half a century later, has to be ‘no’. We knew of his conman father Ronnie’s cartoonish presence in Cornwell’s life, but never the extent to which he has dominated his very being.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Get 3 months of digital access, absolutely free

Subscribe to The Spectator Australia today to get the next 3 months of unlimited website and app access for free.

  • Full access to spectator.com.au and spectator.co.uk
  • The Spectator Australia app, on Apple and Android
  • Podcasts and newsletters, including Morning Double Shot
  • Our archive, going back to 1828
Or

Unlock this article

REGISTER

Available from the Spectator Bookshop, £22 Tel: 08430 600033. Andrew Lycett is the biographer of Ian Fleming, Wilkie Collins and Arthur Conan Doyle.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first month for free, then just $2 a week for the remainder of your first year.


Comments

Get 3 months of digital access, absolutely free

Join the conversation with other Spectator Australia readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in

Close