George Smiley

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George Smiley is a fictional character created by John le Carré. Smiley is an intelligence officer working for MI6 (often referred to as "the Circus" in the novels and films), the British overseas intelligence agency. He is a central character in the novels Call for the Dead; A Murder of Quality; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy; The Honourable Schoolboy; and Smiley's People, and a minor character in a number of others, including le Carré's breakthrough novel The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, The Looking Glass War and The Secret Pilgrim.

Early life

Although Smiley has no concrete biography beyond that offered briefly at the beginning of Call for the Dead, le Carré does leave clues in his novels.

Smiley was probably born around 1906 (or 1915 on the revised chronology) to middle class parents in the South of England, and attended a minor public school and an antiquated Oxford college of no real distinction (in the adaptation of Smiley's People, he refers to himself as a fellow of Lincoln College), studying modern languages with a particular focus on Baroque German literature. In July 1928, while considering post-graduate study in that field, he was recruited into the Secret Intelligence Service by his tutor Jebedee.

He underwent training and probation in Central Europe and South America, and spent the period from 1935 until approximately 1938 in Germany recruiting networks under cover as a lecturer. In 1939, with the commencement of World War II, he saw service not...
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