The Secret Heart

Dawson, Suleika

The astonishing new portrait of the master of spy fiction, by the woman he kept secret for almost half his life

John le Carré led a life entirely constructed of secrets – not just in his first career, as a British spy and agent runner during the height of the Cold War or in his second, as a world-renowned writer of espionage fiction, but also in his personal involvements. He guarded his private life with fierce determination, fending off all would-be biographers until his ninth decade, when he finally relented and permitted his life story to be written. But there was still one element that he insisted be excluded, even then: the women.

Despite being married for virtually all of his adult life, le Carré had a number of secret affairs. Most often conducted abroad with women he met by chance on his travels, these relationships were always intense, occasionally dramatic and sometimes even tragic, yet each was destined to last no more than a few months. But there was one that was of an entirely different order; one great love affair that withstood the test of time; just one woman in all his life whom le Carré took into the innermost sanctum of both his writing and his heart. Of all le Carré’s undisclosed loves, she was the only one who was ever truly his ‘secret sharer’, the only one he ever let that far in.

The Secret Heart is the account of Suleika Dawson’s enduring love affair with John le Carré. Written with fearless honesty and insight, by turns funny and sad, the book sheds a bold new light on one of the greatest British writers of the 20th Century and offers an alternative measure of the man over the literary legend.