David John Moore Cornwell, known to millions of readers as John le Carré, rightly believes that if “childhood is the credit balance of the writer, . . . I was born a millionaire” (le Carré, 2016: 256). Cornwell was born in the genteel south-coast town of Poole, Dorset, on 19 October 1931, to a reprobate father, Ronald (“Ronnie”) Thomas Archibald Cornwell (1906-1975), and an emotionally unstable mother, Olive Moore Glassey (1913-1982), who abandoned her family, eloping with one of Ronnie’s business partners when Cornwell was only five and his brother, Anthony (“Tony”), seven. Although he was reunited with her in the early 1950s, Cornwell never forgave Olive’s betrayal. In his memoir,

The Pigeon Tunnel

(2016), he writes that he can only describe his mother incompletely:…

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Citation: Beene, LynnDianne. "John Le Carré". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 March 2002; last revised 16 December 2020. [https://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=2652, accessed 14 April 2024.]

2652 John Le Carré 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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