Spy novelist Le Carre gifts archive to Oxford library

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The Independent Culture

Espionage author John le Carre is to give his literary archive to the famous Bodleian Library at Oxford University, his "spiritual home", he said Thursday.

The collection contains family papers, photographs, letters and manuscripts, including drafts of one of Le Carre's best known novels, "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy".

The author said he wanted to give the material to the historic Bodleian Library at the prestigious university where he studied, rather than sending it to a USinstitution.

Le Carre - the pseudonym of David Cornwell - is renowned for his espionage and political novels and the creation of fictional spy George Smiley - an officer with Britain's foreign intelligence service MI6. He has written 22 novels over 50 years.

The 79-year-old, who lives in Cornwall, southeast England, said he was "delighted" to be able to give his work a permanent place at the university.

"Oxford was Smiley's spiritual home, as it is mine," he said.

"And while I have the greatest respect for American universities, the Bodleian is where I shall most happily rest."

The library has already received 85 archive boxes and reams more are expected to follow, with the entire collection filling a space "the size of a Cornish barn", the university said.

A selection of Le Carre's papers, including manuscripts of "The Constant Gardener" and "The Tailor of Panama", will be on public display at the Bodleian to mark World Book Day on March 3.

Le Carre studied modern languages at Lincoln College, Oxford, and the character of Smiley is understood to have been based on the Reverend Vivian Green, a former rector there.

His latest work, "Our Kind of Traitor", published in September 2010, features a young Oxford academic embroiled in the defection of a wealthy Russian.

The Cold War era depicted in Le Carre's works draws from his own experiences working for Britain's intelligence agencies during the 1950s and 1960s.

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