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A Short History of George Smiley

Posted November 18, 2011 to photo album "A Short History of George Smiley"

Since he appeared in John le Carré’s 1961 novel, Call For The Dead, the unassuming intelligence operative George Smiley has become the most intellectually cunning and emotionally complex spy of modern times.

Smiley Lives
Call for The Dead (1961): Enter Smiley
A Murder Of Quality (1962): Smiley on his Own
The Spy Who Came In From The Cold (1963): Smiley’s World
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974): Smiley’s Triumph
The Honourable Schoolboy (1977): Smiley in Asia
Smiley’s People (1982): Smiley’s Last Battle
The Secret Pilgrim (1990): Smiley Remembers
A Murder Of Quality (1962): Smiley on his Own

A Murder Of Quality (1962): Smiley on his Own

A Murder of Quality paperback edition; Denholm Elliott in the BBC adaptation.

In le Carré’s second novel, A Murder of Quality, George Smiley has resigned from the Circus (the  name used for MI6) for personal reasons. As a private citizen, he agrees to help out a wartime colleague, now the editor of a Christian newsletter, who has been sent a letter from a woman claiming her husband, a teacher at the prestigious Carne School, is trying to kill her. However, by the time Smiley arrives at the college, the woman has already been murdered, and none of the usual suspects make sense. While A Murder of Quality is not technically a spy novel, it captures aspects of Smiley’s character that reappear in all his novels: his shrewd power of deduction, his remarkable memory, and his complicated moral struggles. In 1991, the book was adapted into a BBC TV movie with Denholm Elliott as Smiley, while a 16-year-old Christian Bale played Tim Perkins, one of the book's pivotal characters.