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Signed first edition of John le Carré’s debut novel sells for £13,345

Famous fictional secret agents and spies abound, from 007  and Simon ‘The Saint’ Templar to Jason Bourne, but John le Carré’s wonderful creation George Smiley might just be the best of them all. Our most expensive sale last month was a signed first edition of Call for the Dead, the author’s debut novel from 1961.

The book is a Cold War tale of East German spies operating in Britain. It begins with the suicide of a British civil servant. Readers learn about Smiley’s character, his background and his role within the ‘Circus’ – le Carré’s name for the MI6 intelligence unit.

Smiley appears in eight novels published between 1961 and 1990. The Spy Who Came into the Cold, released in 1963, became a huge worldwide bestseller and turned le Carré into a major force in literature. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, published 11 years later, was also immensely popular. Smiley is very different from that other famous MI6 operative – James Bond. Although both are flawed, Bond rarely experiences ethical dilemmas while Smiley weighs his decisions very careful. Smiley is not glamorous, never stands out in a crowd and is badly mistreated by his unfaithful wife.

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