This article was written in 2011 and has been republished. 

IT was undoubtedly his most successful novel, and now the film version of John Le Carre’s Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy looks set to follow suit.

The movie opened to rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival and has been tipped to win the prestigious Golden Lion award.

Screen magazine described the film, starring Colin Firth, Gary Oldman, John Hurt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong, Toby Jones and Tom Hardy, as “a richly satisfying piece of storytelling brought to life by a once-in-a-generation cast”.

But of course the credit for that storytelling must go to Poole’s own le Carre – real name David Cornwell – who penned the British spy novel in 1974.

The novelist’s grandfather Alderman Alfred Ernest Frank Cornwell lived in Mount Road, Parkstone and was Mayor of Poole for 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 to try to prove himself with moneymaking schemes.

But David and his brother Tony were frequent visitors to the house in Mount Road where they stayed with their aunties during the holidays, spending their time playing with cap guns at Constitution Hill and taking out boats at Poole Park.

David was also a frequent visitor to the Pier Theatre in Bournemouth.

Despite growing up in what he described as an “artless, bookless and cultureless” house, David developed a passion for literature.

He would devour books by Somerset Maughan, Conrad, Dickens, Buchan and Conan Doyle during his time as a boarder at Sherborne School, which he attended from the age of 13.

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.

The hard work paid off. David is probably one of the greatest writers of spy stories of all time, with numerous best-sellers placed under his belt.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was made into a much-loved television series in 1979, in which Alec Guinness played the part of ex-MI6 chief George Smiley.

Strangely enough, Guinness also spent part of his childhood in Bournemouth and Poole.

His grandfather, Edward Cuff, was originally from Lambeth, but was a coastguard in Bournemouth, and Alec’s mother Agnes Cuff was believed to have met his father while working in Cowes during the regatta.

The name on his birth certificate was Alec Guinness de Cuffe, while the box for his father was left empty.

Alec spent time living in Southbourne as a child where he went to the fee-paying school Pembroke Lodge, and remembers his “greatest pleasure” was “picking thick, wet river flowers along the banks of the Stour, or exploring Hengistbury Head”.

In the film version, Guinness’s role of Smiley is played by Gary Oldman.

David admitted he was delighted with Oldman’s portrayal.

In a written statement he said: “Oldman evokes the same solitude, inwardness, pain and intelligence that his predecessor brought to the part. But Oldman’s Smiley is a man waiting patiently to explode.

“If I were to meet the Smiley of Alec Guinness on a dark night, my instinct would be to go to his protection. If I met Oldman’s I think I just might make a run for it.”

Oldman, in turn, played tribute to David’s storytelling at the press conference in Venice.

“We had a fabulous source of material in the book,” he said.

“It’s like your road map; all the emotions and thoughts and feelings are there.”

Benedict Cumberbatch admitted he was delighted to have won the role of Peter Guillam in the film.

He said: “I’m at the high table of talent I’ve been watching throughout my life. And there are real subtleties in the role which you crave as an actor.”

If the first reviews are anything to go by, the film version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, following in the footsteps of the novel and TV series, will be a ratings smash.

The film is released in the UK on September 16.