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George Smiley Books In Order

Publication Order of George Smiley Books

Call for the Dead (1961) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Murder of Quality (1962) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Looking Glass War (1965) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy (1974) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Honourable Schoolboy (1977) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Smiley's People (1979) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Secret Pilgrim (1990) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle


The George Smiley series is a series of mystery and spy fiction novels written by the popular British novelist named John le Carre. There is a total of 8 books published in this series, which were released between the years 1961 and 1990. All the books of the series feature the fictional character of George Smiley as the main protagonist. Author John Carre has also featured the character of George Smiley in another series called The Karla Trilogy. Except for this series, all the other books featuring the character are merely standalone books and George is often depicted as a supporting character. Smiley is shown by author John Carre as an officer in the British intelligence agency called MI6. The character has also featured in a few films and television series as well. In a couple of television series broadcast on the BBC, this character has been portrayed by Sir Alec Guinness. In fact, it was most recently portrayed by Gary Goldman in the Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy series. Even though author John Carre has depicted George Smiley is all the books of the series, he is shown just as a minor character in a few of them. The first novel featuring George Smiley was published in the year 1961 and was titled as Call for the Dead. After writing a few novels in the series, author John Carre took a break in the year 1965 and then again in 1974. He started writing the series again in the year 1979 and continued until 1990.

Author John Carre has not given any concrete biography about George Smiley’s character except a little bit in the first novel. But, he has left many clues throughout the series that leaves the readers making guesses about the character. George Smiley was born around the year 1906. He belonged to a middle class family living in South England. He completed his schooling from a small public school and then attended the Oxford college. However, he did not have any real distinction. In one of the novels, Smiley has referred himself to be a fellow of the Lincoln College. Author John Carre has described that Smiley studied modern languages and focused particularly on the Baroque German literature. While going for a postgraduate study in this field in the year 1928, he was recruited by his tutor named Jebedee into the intelligence agency. Smiley received his probation and training in South America and Central Europe. Then he spent around three years between 1935 and 1938 in Germany working as a lecturer under cover, recruiting networks. From 1939 onwards, he joined active service in Switzerland, Sweden, and Germany. Smiley was frequently described by his superiors as having the conscience of that of a virgin and a Satan’s cunning. In the year 1943, George Smiley was called back to England to work at MI6 headquarters. At around the same time, he proposed marriage to a woman named Lady Ann Sercomb. Author John Carre has described Lady Ann as an aristocratic, libidinous, and beautiful young lady, who used to work as a secretary at MI6. However, she proved to be a rather condescending and unfaithful wife. Smiley left the service and returned back to Oxford. Then in 1947, he was asked to join work again due to the beginning of the Cold War. Later, he gets transferred to the counter-intelligence department, where he remains for around 10 years. During the same time, Smiley comes across Karla. The character of George Smiley has been played by many people in films and television, including Rupert Davies, James Mason, Bernard Hepton, Simon Russell Beale, Peter Vaughn, Gary Goldman, Denholm Elliott, etc.

An early book written in the George Smiley series by author John le Carre is titled as ‘A Murder of Quality’. The Scribner publishers released this book in the year 1962. Along with George Smiley, the other main characters depicted in the plot include Stanley Rode, Inspector Rigby, Tim Perkins, Jane Lyn, Stella Rode, Dorothy D’Arcy, etc. At the start of the book, George Smiley is shown as doing favors on Miss Alisa Brimley occasionally. She is one of his old friends as well as the editor of a local newspaper agency. One day, Miss Brimley receives a letter from a reader, who seemed to be worried. She had written that she had a suspicion that her husband was trying to kill her and that she was not mad unlike everyone else thought her to be. But the problem is that the letter arrived late to Miss Brimley. Later, she learns that the letter was written by an assistant master’s wife at the Carne School and that she is already dead. Being close to Miss Brimley, George Smiley decides to look into the matter. He visits the Carne School and begins to listen to what over there have to say. George starts asking questions in order to find out the real reason behind the woman’s death. Soon, he goes on to uncover the layers of the complex network of hatred and skeletons that the school was comprised of. Eventually, Smiley unravels the mystery behind the death of the wife of the assistant master at the school.

Another book published initially in the series is titled as ‘The Looking Glass War’. At the beginning of this book, it is shown that the Circus at the MI6 handled all the things related to politics while the military matters were looked after by the Department. However, as the years passed shift of power happened that caused the elbowing out of the Department by the Circus. But suddenly, a new job arrives to be carried out at the hands of the Department. Several evidences show that the Soviet Union has deployed missiles on the German border. Also, an important film has disappeared and the courier who was carrying it is found dead. Now, the Department knows that it is lacking several active agents and possesses an outdated mandate. But, it knows that it has to anyhow carry out the job successfully in order to prove its importance in the intelligence agency. For this purpose, the Department banks on George Smiley and a German turned Englishman named Fred Leiser. Fred was once a well qualified radio man, but now he is more engaged in the motor trade. The Department decides to call these men to active duty and send them to the East in order to look into the matter as soon as possible.

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