#AceBritishHistory – BRITAIN – March 29 – 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 1982 BBC television 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 only in Germany, but also in Switzerland and Sweden. Smiley’s wartime superiors described him as having “the cunning of Satan and the conscience of a virgin”.
In 1943, he was recalled to England to work at MI6 headquarters, and in 1945 successfully proposed marriage to Lady Ann Sercombe, a beautiful, aristocratic, and libidinous young lady working as a secretary there. Ann would prove a most unfaithful and rather condescending wife. In the same year, Smiley left the Service and returned to Oxford. However, in 1947, with the onset of the Cold War, Smiley was asked to return to the Service, and in early 1951 moved into counter-intelligence work, where he would remain for the next decade. During that period, Smiley first met his Soviet nemesis, Karla, in a Delhi prison. Karla proved impossible to crack, and he took Smiley’s lighter, a gift to Smiley from his wife.
Dedicated to Brittius