BEST-selling authors, an Oscar-winning actor and the head of the intelligence service have been among those paying tribute to the Poole-born espionage writer John le Carre.

Le Carre was the pen name of David Cornwell, whose 25 novels include Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Spy Who Came In From the Cold.

Authors such as Stephen King, Robert Harris and Margaret Atwood paid tribute after his death from pneumonia at 89, along with actor Gary Oldman and MI6 head Richard Moore.

His literary agent Jonny Geller, of Curtis Brown, said in a statement: “We have lost a great figure of English literature, a man of great wit, kindness, humour and intelligence.”

Le Carre became a patron of the Poole children’s hospice Julia’s House earlier this year, after supporting the charity for several years and regularly reading at its carol service.

The author said: “Julia’s House has a rare and special claim on me that I find hard to describe – perhaps it is to do with having been so lucky in our own family, with one or two minor exceptions when compared to the brave, sad misfortunes that Julia’s House confronts daily.”

A tribute from Julia’s House said: “John has played a hugely valuable role in sharing the work of Julia’s House and providing his support. Most recently he recorded a beautiful reading for our Christmas Cracker virtual concert. He will be much missed by everyone here.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time.”

The novelist’s grandfather Alfred Cornwell lived in Mount Road, Parkstone, and was mayor of Poole for a term ending in November 1929.

He was a senior partner in a firm of insurance brokers, as well as managing director of Boscombe Motor Repairs.

David’s father, Ronald Cornwell, lived with his wife Olive in Brownsea View Avenue, Lilliput, before moving to London where he tried to prove himself with moneymaking schemes.

David and his older brother Tony were frequent visitors to Mount Road, where they stayed with his aunts during the holidays. They enjoyed playing with cap guns at Constitution Hill and took out boats at Poole Park. David was also a frequent visitor to Bournemouth Pier Theatre.

“Our household was artless, bookless and cultureless,” he once told the Daily Echo.

David, who was a boarder at Sherborne School from 13, would devour novels by Somerset Maugham, Conrad, Dickens, Buchan and Conan Doyle in secret.

He began writing during a stint with the Army Intelligence Corps after achieving a first class degree in modern languages at the University of Bern, Switzerland, and teaching at Eton College.

He achieved worldwide success with The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, published in 1963 and made into a film starring Richard Burton.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy became an acclaimed TV serial with Alec Guinness and a film with Gary Oldman, who said: “He was generous with his creativity and always a true gentleman.”