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The literary archive of John le Carré (David Cornwell)


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The papers comprise manuscripts and typescripts of most novels published between 1965 and 2010, together with (in some cases) proofs and other papers.


  • Creation: 1965-2010


90.0 Linear metres (600 physical shelfmarks)

Language of Materials

  • English

Conditions Governing Access

Readers must sign an undertaking regarding the handling, copying, publishing and quotation of the material.

Conditions Governing Use

Small amounts of material may be copied from any one box of unbound papers. Larger amounts of copying require the written consent of the Owner of the papers.

Preferred Citation

Oxford, Bodleian Libraries MS. le Carré 1 [and brief description of item]

Please see our help page for further guidance on citing archives and manuscripts.

Full range of shelfmarks:

MSS. le Carré 1-600

Collection ID (for staff)

CMD ID 6514


Manuscripts of novels by John le Carré, 1965-2010.

Biographical / Historical

John le Carré is the pseudonym of David John Moore Cornwell. Born in Poole, Dorset in 1931, he was educated at Sherborne School and studied German literature at the University of Bern, Switzerland before going up to Oxford. There he read Modern Languages at Lincoln College and was awarded a First Class Honours degree. After teaching at Eton from 1956 to 1958, he spent five years in the British Foreign Service as Second Secretary in the British Embassy in Bonn and later as Political Consul in Hamburg. He left the Service in 1964, the same year that he won the Somerset Maugham Award for young writers for The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963). His first novel, Call for the Dead (1961), had introduced the character of George Smiley, who features in a further seven novels. Many of le Carré's books have also been filmed, most notably The Spy who Came in from the Cold (with Richard Burton in 1965) and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1974), which was made into an acclaimed BBC television serial starring Alec Guinness in 1979. A Delicate Truth, published in April 2013, is le Carré's 23rd novel.


The papers are arranged by novel, mostly chronologically by date of publication, as arranged by the author.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

John le Carré has offered his literary archive to the Bodleian Library with the intention that it should become its permanent home. This first tranche of his papers (MSS. Le Carré 1-489) was transferred to the Bodleian on 4 August 2010; the second tranche (MSS. Le Carré 490-600) was transferred on 4 April 2013.

Catalogue of the literary archive of John le Carré (David Cornwell), 1965-2010
Finding aid prepared by Finding aid prepared by Oliver House
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Bodleian Libraries Repository

Weston Library
Broad Street
Oxford OX1 3BG United Kingdom