George Smiley

Fictional British intelligence officer / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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George Smiley OBE[1] is a fictional character created by John le Carré. Smiley is a career intelligence officer with "The Circus", 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 supporting character in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The Looking Glass War, The Secret Pilgrim and A Legacy of Spies. The character has also appeared in a number of film, television, and radio adaptations of le Carré's books.

Quick facts: George Smiley, First appearance, Last appeara...
George Smiley
First appearanceCall for the Dead
Last appearanceA Legacy of Spies
Created byJohn le Carré
Portrayed by
In-universe information
OccupationIntelligence officer
AffiliationThe Circus
SpouseLady Ann Sercomb

Le Carré created Smiley as an intentional foil to James Bond, a character whom he believed depicted an inaccurate and damaging version of espionage life.[2] Short, overweight, balding, and bespectacled, Smiley is polite and self-effacing and frequently allows others to mistreat him, including his serially unfaithful wife; these traits mask his inner cunning, excellent memory, mastery of tradecraft, and occasional ruthlessness.[3] His genius, coupled with other characters' willingness to underestimate him, allows Smiley to achieve his goals and ultimately become one of the most powerful spies in Britain.[4][5]

The character is held in high esteem in Britain, where he has become a pop-culture icon on par with Bond.[4] The Guardian has called him "the sort of spy [Britain] believes it ought to have: a bit shabby, academic, basically loyal, and sceptical of the enthusiasms of his political masters."[6]