The death has been announced of 89-year-old espionage author David Cornwell, better known by his pen name John le Carré.

A statement from his agent said he passed away in Cornwall, England on Saturday following a short illness.

A bestseller for six decades, his books included The Spy Who Came In From The Cold and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

He is survived by his wife Jane and his four sons.

A statement shared on behalf of the author's family said: "It is with great sadness that we must confirm that David Cornwell - John le Carré - passed away from pneumonia last Saturday night after a short battle with the illness.

"David is survived by his beloved wife of almost 50 years, Jane, and his sons Nicholas, Timothy, Stephen and Simon. We all grieve deeply his passing.

"Our thanks go to the wonderful NHS team at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro for the care and compassion that he was shown throughout his stay. We know they share our sadness." 

His literary agent Jonny Geller, of Curtis Brown, said in a statement: "His like will never be seen again, and his loss will be felt by every book lover, everyone interested in the human condition."

Born in 1931, Mr Cornwell was educated at the universities of Bern, in Switzerland, and Oxford, before embarking on his undercover intelligence career, according to Curtis Brown.

The Spy Who Came In From The Cold, published in 1963, brought him worldwide acclaim and he left the service to pursue writing full time.