John Le Carre’s real name was David Cornwell, and a woman who claims to have had an affair with him for years has written a book about their connection.
Suleika Dawson, a pseudonym, claims she and Cornwell dated for a combined 30 months, starting in 1983 and continuing through 1985 and 1999. Cornwell was 50 years old when they met.
Besides his two wives, the author of The Secret Heart – John Le Carre: An Intimate Memoir claims she spent more time with him than “all his ‘other ladies’,” therefore calling her “the love of his [life]” is an understatement.
Cornwell was married twice before his death in 2020 at the age of 89. From 1954 until 1971, he was married to Alison Sharp; from 1971 until his death, he was married to Valerie Eustace.
Dawson, author of The Night Manager, recounted her and Eustace’s “zigzagging” in making decisions in an excerpt from her book published on Monday (3 October). Eustace passed away two months after Dawson.
After “all the broken dates, the double-down promises that followed to patch things up [that were broken too]” in the summer of 1984, she finally vented her frustrations in a letter.
According to Dawson, “his special gift was to push you to the brink of insanity and then seem startled when you threw yourself into the abyss.”
The ex-MI5 and ex-MI6 employee “stated he had no excuse for his ‘zigzagging,’ and then proceeded to create many reasons and zigzag some more,” according to the “quasi-apologetic” letter.
In the fall of the same year, Dawson and his wife took a vacation in Zurich, where they stayed “in our normal hotel, the Dolder Grand.”
A day after their arrival, however, she reported that something had altered in the air between them while they slept.
On October 14th, 2018 at the 62nd BFI London Film Festival, John le Carre and Florence Pugh saw the world premiere of “The Little Drummer Girl.”
Something was obviously wrong, she wrote, but she had no idea what it was. “When he did speak, his voice sounded hollow and lifeless, like a dreadful abyss. “You have to go back,” he told me. You can’t be this joyful, I thought.
Dawson also describes the sexual encounters she and Cornwell had elsewhere in her book. “Sex that only the hero and heroine can have; sex for the cameras, sex for the gods,” she said of their first time in bed together.
After Cornwell passed away, Dawson finally released her book “because he had the money to suit her,” she told the newspaper.
But she continued, “For your cover to be blown, you have still to be undercover, you have to be operative,” indicating that she thought Cornwell would have loved her story. I can’t imagine a more ineffective state than death.