HE is regarded as one of the finest spy novelists of all time. Now John le Carré has been named the latest recipient of the £100,000 Olof Palme prize, for "outstanding contribution to the necessary fight for freedom, democracy and social justice”.

Olof Palme?

The Olof Palme award is named for the Swedish politician and statesman who was assassinated in 1986 - the killer has never been found. The honour is given for actions conducted "in the spirit" of Palme, intended to reward “an outstanding achievement in any of the areas of anti-racism, human rights, international understanding, peace and common security”.

Past recipients?

They include the former secretary general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, in 2006 and Daniel Ellsberg in 2018, the ex-US military analyst and whistleblower, who released the classified Pentagon Papers in relation to the Vietnam War in 1971, and who was the subject of the 2017 Tom Hanks movie, The Post, which covers his battle to publish the documents. Amensty International won in 1991.

And now?

John le Carré, whose real name is David Cornwell, is the latest recipient, with prize organisers commending the British author for “his engaging and humanistic opinion-making in literary form regarding the freedom of the individual and the fundamental issues of mankind.”

Announcing the award, they added that “attracting world-wide attention, he is constantly urging us to discuss the cynical power games of the major powers, the greed of global corporations, the irresponsible play of corrupt politicians with our health and welfare, the growing spread of international crime, the tension in the Middle East, and the alarming rise of fascism and xenophobia in Europe and the United States of America”.

He’s most famous for?

Born in 1931 in Dorset, le Carré’s third novel, The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, was published in 1963, and introduced the character of British intelligence agent, George Smiley, for whom he is probably most well-known.

Created as the antithesis of James Bond, Smiley has featured in a raft of le Carré’s works, including Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy in 1974 and Smiley’s People, in 1979, as well as in A Legacy Of Spies in 2017, with most of his work set during the Cold War.

The Night Manager?

A 2016 TV adaptation of his 1993 novel, The Night Manager, starring Hugh Laurie and Tom Hiddleston, was a hit worldwide, produced by his sons Stephen and Simon Cornwell, with a second series afoot.

Le Carré is still writing?

He published his 25th novel, Agent Running In The Field, last year at the age of 87.

He is a former intelligence officer?

He writes of what he knows, as le Carré was an MI5 officer in the 1950s, transferring to MI6 in 1960 where he worked in the British Embassy in Bonn.

He’s a democracy campaigner?

Le Carré uses his novels to speak out against abuses of power, with his targets ranging from arms dealers to politicians. The author, who usually shys away from honours, has finallly accepted one and said he will donate the prize money to Médecins Sans Frontières.