What a Le Carré on! Biographer reveals the spy writer’s 11 affairs – including several with wives of his friends
What a Le Carré! Biographer reveals the spy writer’s eleven affairs, including several with his friends’ wives
- John le Carré claimed that infidelity was a “necessary medicine for my writing.”
- His first marriage ended after he had an affair with the wife of a spy colleague
Spy writer John le Carré was a serial love trickster who had at least eleven affairs – including some with the wives of his friends – his biographer has revealed.
The former MI6 officer, real name David Cornwell, claimed infidelity was ‘a necessary drug for my writing, a kind of dangerous edge’.
The mistresses included an au pair who cared for his young son, the wife of a spy colleague in Bonn, a journalist and a former model.
His first marriage ended after the Bonn affair in the early 1960s, when he wrote his breakthrough novel The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.
After marrying his second wife Jane, he tried to persuade the ex-model to move in with them as a ménage à trois, claiming that her ‘input’ was important to his work.
John le Carré (pictured in 2011 at the UK premiere of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) had at least eleven affairs during his life, describing them as ‘like a necessary medicine for my writing’
Le Carré (pictured) died in 2020 at the age of 89, and his biographer, Adam Sisman, has revealed the author and former MI6 officer’s promiscuity in his new book, with the approval of his surviving sons
So many women shared his bed that a neighbor in West Cornwall kept a record of more than fifty conquests.
Biographer Adam Sisman, in yesterday’s Times Magazine, recalls how the author told a lover, “I’m going to have to lie to my wife,” before rising from the hotel bed and calling Jane.
“He was serially unfaithful.” adds Sisman. “I have been able to identify 11 women he had affairs with during the first 30 years of their marriage, and I know there were many more.”
Most of the conquests were younger than him – in one case forty years old – and several were fictionalized in his novels.
Sisman adds that a friend told the writer: “He would need a different woman for each book, advice that David seems to have taken to heart.
“Another friend commented, ‘He only notices women when they’re married.’ When women were a challenge, men were rivals.
“Several of the women he had affairs with were married to friends of his; this could happen once by accident, or even twice, but with David it happened again and again.”
Sisman says he decided not to reveal Cornwell’s affairs in his original 2015 biography.
But following the author’s death in 2020 at the age of 89, the death of his widow weeks later, and with the consent of the surviving sons, he decided to include details in his new book The Secret Life of John le Carre, as ‘the pursuit of women was a key to unlocking the world’. are fiction’.