HE is famously reclusive and certainly doesn’t court attention. Could this be the reason why veteran spy novelist John Le Carré has asked to be removed from the list of nominees for the £60,000 Man Booker International Prize?

The author, whose real name is David Cornwell, admitted he was “enormously flattered” to be one of the 12 writers in the running for the prestigious award.

But he added: “However I do not compete for literary prizes and have therefore asked for my name to be withdrawn.”

The decision by David, who spent much of his life in Poole growing up, seems to be at odds with his family history. His father and grandfather both appeared to enjoy life in the public eye.

The novelist’s grandfather Alderman Alfred Ernest Frank 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 Thomas Archibald Cornwell lived with his wife Olive in Brownsea View Avenue, Lilliput, before moving to London where he tried to prove himself with moneymaking schemes.

Ronnie was, according to David, “a very flamboyant figure”, leading a flashy lifestyle involving a Bentley, a chauffeur and a string of racehorses, although he also spent time in prison following “something to do with insurance fraud”.

Ronnie’s son was clearly not cut out to follow in his footsteps.

David and his older brother Tony were frequent visitors to the house in Mount Road, where they stayed with his aunties during the holidays.

They enjoyed playing with cap guns at Constitution Hill and took out boats at Poole Park and David was also a frequent visitor to Bournemouth Pier Theatre.

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

So David, who was a boarder at Sherborne School from the age of 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 in Beren, Switzerland and a spell teaching at Eton College.

David is probably one of the greatest writers of spy stories of all time, with best-sellers such as The Spy Who Came In From The Cold and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

The chairman of the Man Booker prize judges, Rick Gekoski, admitted he was disappointed Le Carré wanted to withdraw his name, but said that he would remain on the list.