Spy writer, le Carré, turns 70

Le Carré became a septuagenarian on Friday Keystone Archive

The celebrated novelist, John le Carré, who attended the University of Bern, celebrated his 70th birthday on Friday.

This content was published on October 19, 2001 - 22:50

Le Carré penned his first fictional work, "Call for the dead", in 1961.

The British author's most recent novel, "The Constant Gardener", tells the story of a Swiss pharmaceutical firm that will stop at nothing - including murder - to conceal its criminal activities.

Le Carré's relationship with Switzerland and the Swiss began when he studied German at the University of Bern.

Born David John Moore Cornwell on 19 October 1931 in the British city of Poole, le Carré left Eton at the age of 16 and headed across Europe to Switzerland.

In a recent interview with swissinfo timed to coincide with the publication of "The Constant Gardener", le Carré said he did not think the Swiss were "any different from other people, but they like to think they are".

He told swissinfo that while he detected a sense of false respectability in many Swiss, he greatly admired and was fond of them, and had even had a house built in Switzerland.

"I don't mean to offend, " he said, "but it's just that when I started exploring the pharmaceutical industry, my hair stood on end."

swissinfo with agencies

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