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Home » A Most Wanted Man! The 12 Mistresses Of John Le Carré Are ‘just The Tip Of The Iceberg’, Says His Biographer – As More Of Spy Writer’s Lovers Come Forward

A Most Wanted Man! The 12 Mistresses Of John Le Carré Are ‘just The Tip Of The Iceberg’, Says His Biographer – As More Of Spy Writer’s Lovers Come Forward

The dozen previously known mistresses of John le Carré are ‘just the tip of the iceberg’, his biographer has claimed.

Adam Sisman revealed the details of the former MI6 spy’s affairs in a book last year and said many more women have come forward since its publication.

Using different names to book into hotels and using safe houses, his mistresses included a woman 40 years younger than him, his friend’s wife and his son’s au pair. 

Out of respect for his wife Jane, the spy author – real name David Cornwell – asked his biographer not to detail his infidelity while he was still alive.

The official biography was published in 2015, and after the author’s death in 2020, Sisman wrote The Secret Life of John le Carré. 

Appearing at the Oxford Literary Festival, the biographer said ‘I’m quite sure that is just the tip of the iceberg,’ The Telegraph reported. 

The dozen previously known mistresses of John le Carré are ‘just the tip of the iceberg’

Out of respect for his wife Jane, the spy author – real name David Cornwell – asked his biographer not to detail his infidelity while he was still alive. Pictured together in 2001.

Sisman said that David met one of these mistresses in September 1982 – a young woman in her mid-20s. Sue Dawson, who lived in Chelsea, abridged books for audio release on cassette tapes. She described herself then as ‘generally up for anything’

The official biography was published in 2015, and after the author’s death in 2020, Sisman wrote The Secret Life of John le Carré

The newspaper reported Sisman as saying he’s identified 12 mistresses in the book but ‘I think there were at least a dozen more’.

He went on to say that several more women have come forward since the book was published, adding ‘they just kept popping up’.

He said: ‘I did talk to David about this, and he would usually hang his head in his hands and say, ‘Oh, no.’

‘I said: ‘We can’t ignore this aspect of your life,’ The Telegraph reported.

John le Carré is reported as saying he didn’t want to ‘humiliate’ his wife Jane, to which Sisman replied ‘It’s a bit late for that.’ 

The author used versions of his mistresses into his novels as characters, his biographer said.

Jane died two months after her husband passed away, aged 89.

The marriage of spy novelist David Cornwell – better known to the world by his pen name, John le Carré – to his second wife Jane was often characterised in public as an ideal partnership. ‘I think we’re more monogamous than most couples,’ he once said to Sisman.

His first marriage fell apart after the Bonn affair in the early 1960s, when he was writing his breakthrough novel The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.

When Sue asked him what he would do if Jane ever found out about their affair, his answer was unequivocal: ‘I’d deny you – I would deny you utterly,’ his biographer claimed

The author used versions of his mistresses in his novels as characters, his biographer said

After marrying second wife Jane, he tried to persuade the ex-model to move in with them as a ménage à trois, claiming her ‘input’ was important to his work.

So many women shared his bed that one neighbour in West Cornwall kept a tally of more than 50 conquests.

Writing in the Mail previously, his biographer said: ‘Most of them were younger than he was, some of them much younger. One was the au pair looking after his youngest son. With another woman, almost 30 years his junior, he had two affairs: the first in the mid-1980s, the second 14 years later. His last that I know about was with a journalist more than 40 years younger.

‘When David decided to seduce a woman, he would pursue her relentlessly. A handsome man even in late middle age, he could be scintillating company, witty and attentive, with a fund of entertaining stories and a deep reservoir of experience to draw upon.

‘He wrote erotic letters to them, making them feel missed and desired. He lured those with literary ambitions into imagining that they might write together. He had the ability to make people love him even when they knew that they shouldn’t, and to want to protect him and share his life.’

His biographer previously said that the author was ‘playing at being a spy’ in his affairs.

‘They required considerable trade-craft, with codes, dead letter boxes, and safe houses – flats where he would go and supposedly write undisturbed, in reality places where he could take women without fear of discovery,’ he wrote in the Mail.

He added: ‘Sympathetic male friends were enlisted to act as ‘cut-outs’, receiving post that otherwise might be intercepted by Jane. He arranged assignations abroad, booked into hotels under assumed names (usually ‘Cosgrove’ or ‘Cosgrave’), used a dedicated travel agent (a former intelligence colleague, or so he told one of his lovers), and listed women in his address book under code names.’

Sisman said that David met one of these mistresses in September 1982 – a young woman in her mid-20s. Sue Dawson, who lived in Chelsea, abridged books for audio release on cassette tapes. She described herself then as ‘generally up for anything’. 

When she asked him what he would do if Jane ever found out about their affair, his answer was unequivocal: ‘I’d deny you – I would deny you utterly,’ his biographer claimed.