LONDON (Reuters) - British spy writer John Le Carre says he will leave his literary archive, including classics like “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” and “The Constant Gardener,” to Oxford University’s Bodleian Library.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for fictional spy George Smiley, Le Carre’s most famous character who was partly inspired by the real-life Reverend Vivian Green.
Green was rector of Lincoln College, Oxford University, where the author studied modern languages, and chaplain at Sherborne school when Le Carre was there. Smiley, like his creator, also studied at Oxford.
“I am delighted to be able to do this,” Le Carre, 79, whose real name is David John Moore Cornwell, said in a statement.
“Oxford was Smiley’s spiritual home, as it is mine. And while I have the greatest respect for American universities, the Bodleian is where I shall most happily rest,” he added.
Some 85 boxes full of archives have already been delivered to the library, and more material is expected. The archive includes several versions of Le Carre’s works, showing the evolution of his thought, his handling of plot and development of character, the Bodleian said.
To mark the donation, the library will display a small selection of Le Carre’s working papers on March 3, which is World Book Day.
The display will feature excerpts from various handwritten and typed drafts of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” which show how the novel evolved from its early working title, “The Reluctant Autumn of George Smiley” to the final published text.
It will also include photographs of Le Carre with actor Alec Guinness, who famously played Smiley in the 1979 BBC television series, as well as manuscripts of two of Le Carre’s favorite novels — “The Tailor of Panama” and “The Constant Gardener.”
Le Carre has written over 20 novels in a writing career spanning 50 years. His spy novels are partly based on his own experiences as a British intelligence officer in Cold War Europe, although he has sought to play down his life under cover.
“In the old days it was convenient to bill me as a spy turned writer,” he once wrote. “I was nothing of the kind. I am a writer who, when I was very young, spent a few ineffectual but extremely formative years in British Intelligence.”
Reporting by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato