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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
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974): Smiley’s Triumph

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974): Smiley’s Triumph

Clockwise, paperback edition, Alec Guinness as Smiley in the BBC mini-series; Gary Oldman in Tomas Alfredson's film.

George Smiley didn’t return until 1974, but when he did it was for what many consider to be le Carré’s (and Smiley’s) greatest novel, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. By 1974, a middle-aged Smiley has been forced into retirement, and is only called back into action when Control (an ousted senior official in the Secret Intelligence Service) suspects that there is a mole at the heart of the Circus. Peter Guillam, Smiley’s longtime associate, comes on board to assist him. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is the first of the Karla trilogy, le Carré’s three-part series dealing with Smiley's interactions with his arch-nemesis, the Soviet spy master Karla. In 1979, the BBC adapted the novel into a mini-series with Alec Guinness playing the role of Smiley, and now Gary Oldman picks up Smiley’s smart spectacles.