The Honourable Schoolboy

The Honourable Schoolboy

infobox Book |
name = The Honourable Schoolboy
title_orig =
translator =

image_caption = First edition cover
author = John le Carré
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United Kingdom
language = English
series = The Karla Trilogy
genre = Spy novel
publisher = Hodder & Stoughton (UK) & Random House (USA)
pub_date = 1977
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages =
isbn = ISBN 1-135-43056-X (first edition, hardback)
preceded_by = Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
followed_by = Smiley's People

"The Honourable Schoolboy" (1977), by John le Carré, is the second novel of the Karla Trilogy; it won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for literature. Although George Smiley has a major role, the eponymous protagonist is the Honourable Jerry Westerby, a newspaper reporter and some-time British spy, who was a minor character in the novel "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy".

Plot introduction

It is 1974. George Smiley has cleaned house at the London headquarters of British Intelligence, in the wake of exposing a mole. As part of reconstructing and rehabilitating a badly compromised secret service, he seeks clues to put him on the trail of Karla, Smiley's Soviet counterpart. His team's discoveries lead to calling for the services of occasional agent the Hon. Jerry Westerby.

Plot summary

After discovering a Soviet mole in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", George Smiley is appointed Chief of the severely weakened British Secret Intelligence Service ("nom de guerre", "The Circus"). While Smiley must immediately begin reconstructing the Circus, he must also launch a successful offensive operation to save the service from the Hawks in government. Smiley, Sachs, and di Salis "take back-bearings" — look for any investigation unreasonably suppressed by Bill Haydon. They find Sam Collins's investigation of a "gold seam" (money laundering) in Vientiane, Laos, which points to Karla, Smiley's Moscow Centre counterpart and personal nemesis; from the start, it is evident that Collins has secrets and an agenda of his own.

Smiley dispatches Jerry Westerby (journalist and occasional secret agent), "the Honourable Schoolboy", to Hong Kong, where he "burns" Hong Kong banker Frost for photographs of Drake Ko's account — the destination of the Moscow money flowing through Vientiane. Westerby's photographs reveal that Ko's account is a "lock-away account", with only one name to it — Drake Ko, founder of the trust. The trust beneficiary is identified only by fingerprint; no money has been withdrawn, the balance is some US$500,000.

Work by Craw and Westerby in Hong Kong, and Circus investigators in England, establishes that Drake Ko's blonde companion is Elizabeth Worthington, formerly wife of pilot Ricardo in Vientiane, and that Lizzie thought herself working for British intelligence under the guidance of Mellon (Sam Collins's work name). Sachs and di Salis interview a Mr Hibbert, a missionary who long ago named the Ko brothers "Drake" and "Nelson"; they also learn that Mr Hibbert's dead wife was named "Liese".

American intelligence reports Ricardo alive; that he once approached the Americans, offering information about opium he was to fly to Red China. The Americans are eager to arrest Drake Ko for being a drugs kingpin, and give Smiley ten to twelve weeks to pursue Circus interests before they intervene. Better than Guillam, Smiley understands the implications of the intelligence — that Tiu's quick trip to Shanghai, six weeks before Ricardo's planned flight to China, was to meet with Nelson Ko and arrange their rendez-vous, at which Nelson would escape China in Ricardo's Beechcraft aeroplane.

Thus, Smiley decides to "shake Ko's tree", i.e. let him know he is being exposed by investigation, provoking his action in advancing the operation. Westerby maneuvers Liese Worth–Lizzie Worthington to dine with him. She calls Tiu to the restaurant; before Tiu, Westerby interviews her about Ricardo, about connections between Indocharter air transport and the Soviet embassy in Vientiane; it is apparent to him that Lizzie knows nothing of the gold seam, Drake's brother, Nelson, or the Soviet connection.

Circus research has cobbled a biography of Nelson Ko, or Sheng-hsiu Ko, and later, Yao Kai-sheng. He attended shipbuilding school in Leningrad in 1953-1956, where Ivan Ivanovitch Bretlev, a Karla talent spotter, was on the faculty. Nelson returned to China a year later — the Circus presume the intervening year dedicated to training by Karla. As "Yao Kai-sheng", Nelson Ko, had great responsibilities in China until 1967, when his Soviet credentials led to political disgrace during the Cultural Revolution. In 1971, he resumed naval functions, but formal rehabilitation occurred only at the beginning of 1973. He went on to join the Central Planning Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. Circus also have background from the Cousins on Charlie Marshall, a friend and co-pilot of Ricardo's, involved in opium smuggling.

Drake Ko's men torture and murder the banker Frost for revealing Ko's name to Westerby; the brutality of the murder deeply unsettles Westerby, and stuns the Circus.

On Circus orders, Westerby finds Charlie Marshall in Battambang, managing to board Marshall's DC-4 Carvair flight enroute to Phnom Penh. Ricardo is also aboard, but Westerby doesn't grasp who he is until arriving at Phnom Penh; Ricardo shoots at Westerby in his evasion. That night, Westerby pulls Marshall from an opium den and interrogates him, learning that Lizzie was a Hong Kong heroin courier for Mellon (Sam Collins), and that she, personally, intervened with Drake Ko in Ricardo's behalf, and that Tiu offered Marshall $5,000 for an unconventional flight, which Marshall turned down on his father's advice; and "where" (between flights) Ricardo currently hides.

The Circus send Westerby after Ricardo, by ferry, across the Mekong river into Thailand. Ricardo tells Westerby about the China mission Tiu assigned him — Drake Ko paid Ricardo's debts as payment for Ricardo flying to Red China carrying opium and flying out carrying out a package. Westerby tells Ricardo that the package was to be Nelson Ko, Drake Ko's brother. Ricardo again tries killing Westerby — a delayed-action grenade in the fuel tank of Westerby's jeep, who figures it out in time to watch it explode.

On the 30th of April of 1975, the Honourable Schoolboy arrives at an American air force base in northeast Thailand, and cables his report to the Circus; he also learns that Saigon has fallen to the North Vietnamese Army. The Circus, in turn, order Westerby to directly return to London, explicitly ordering him to not return to Hong Kong, but Westerby goes to Hong Kong, and finds room-mate photo-journalist Luke dead in their apartment, evidently shot by Tiu, who mistook Luke for Westerby.

Smiley, Guillam, Fawn, Martello, and Murphy fly to Hong Kong to complete the investigation, and to capture Nelson Ko. Smiley knows that Nelson Ko will escape China (like Drake Ko in 1951) on a fishing fleet junk to the southernmost island of Po Toi.

Honourable Schoolboy Westerby, now essentially on the run, remains in Hong Kong to rescue Lizzie Worthington (he pulls her out of a party), and to protect Nelson Ko from capture by the British Secret Service; American intelligence watch Drake Ko.

Westerby and Lizzie go to her apartment. Smiley enters the apartment (having learned Westerby's whereabouts), and Westerby, expecting Drake Ko or Tiu, assaults him before grasping it's Smiley, and in turn is manhandled by Fawn, Smiley's factotum. Fawn and Guillam are to take Westerby to the airport and see him onto a London flight, but he escapes, and picks up Lizzie, again. Westerby and Lizzie take a boat to Po Toi. There, Lizzie shows Westerby the places special to Drake Ko — so Westerby knows where Nelson Ko will land. Lizzie returns to Hong Kong, after arranging a rendez-vous with Westerby for the next night. That night, Westerby finds Drake Ko and Tiu on the beach, awaiting Nelson Ko. Westerby disables Tiu, telling Drake Ko he wants Lizzie for himself — in exchange for saving Nelson Ko's life from British and American intelligence. Drake Ko is sceptical. Nelson Ko lands; the brothers embrace. American helicopters appear. Nelson Ko is bagged, Fawn shoots and kills Jerry Westerby (unknown whether on Smiley's orders or personal initiative), and Drake Ko is left sobbing on the beach.

Peter Guillam's suspicions of the Americans, Enderby, and Collins are correct — Nelson Ko is detained and questioned, not in England, but in the U.S., not by di Salis and Sachs, but by the Americans; Enderby and Collins assume top jobs in the Circus. George Smiley and Connie Sachs are pensioned off, and Peter Guillam is exiled to Brixton, where he was at the start of "Tinker, Tailor, Solidier, Spy".

Characters in "The Honourable Schoolboy"

Circus assets:
* The Honourable Jerry Westerby - a newspaper reporter, and occasional British agent
* George Smiley - now the leader of British intelligence
* Peter Guillam - Smiley's "cupbearer" at the Circus. The story is often seen through his eyes.
* Fawn - Smiley's factotum
* Connie Sachs - chief Moscow-gazer at the Circus
* Doc di Salis - head China-watcher at the Circus
* Molly Meakin - skilful junior staff at the Circus, catches Peter Guillam's eye
* Sam Collins - an "old Circus" field operative who was based in Vientiane, Laos.
* Stubbs - managing editor at Westerby's paper

Steering Committee to authorize further operations after the Ko bank account papers are obtained:
* Oliver Lacon - Circus watchdog
* Roddy Martindale - Foreign Office, scourge of the Circus
* Saul Enderby - Foreign Office, former ambassador to Indonesia, now chief pundit on South East Asia
* Wilbraham - Colonial Office
* Pretorius - Security Service
* The Welsh Hammer - Treasury banker

Other Characters
* Ann - Smiley's wife
* Peter Worthington - Elizabeth Worthington's abandoned husband
* Mr. and Mrs. Pelling - Elizabeth Worthington's parents
* Mrs. Matthews - unofficial widow of Control
* Mr. Hibbert - as a missionary in Shanghai, knew Drake Ko and his brother Nelson
* Martello - head of CIA London office
* Murphy - Martello's assistant
* Tiny Ricardo - Mexican frontman for Indocharter Vientiane S.A.
* Elizabeth Worthington, alias Lizzie, alias Lizzie Ricardo, alias Liese Worth - first, common-law wife of Tiny Ricardo; then, mistress of Drake Ko
* Charlie Marshall - sometime business partner of Tiny Ricardo
* Luke - Californian journalist in Hong Kong
* Big Moo - local journalistic jargon for the governor of Hong Kong
* Rockhurst ("The Rocker") - Superintendent of Police in Hong Kong
* William Craw - an aging journalist, working for British Intelligence
* Jake Chiu - Luke's landlord, a real-estate entrepreneur
* Major Tufty Thesinger - Hong Kong's Lestrade of the Yard
* Frost - works at a Hong Kong bank, is used by Westerby
* Drake Ko - Hong Kong Fat Cat, receiving US$25K a month from the Soviets
* Nelson Ko - Drake's brother; also Drake's deceased son
* Tiu - Ko's assistant
* Arpego - wealthy Filipino, friend of Ko
* Phoebe Wayfarer - half-English, half-Chinese agent for Brit Intel
* Sally Cale - art faker, illicit bullion dealer, occasional heroin trafficker, business partner or employee of Ko, introduced Liese to him
* Keller - veteran journalist whom Westerby meets in Phnom Penh
* Lorraine - American journalist in Phnom Penh

Allusions/references to other works

Westerby buys a copy of Voltaire's Candide to give to Marshall. Westerby likes to read Joseph Conrad.

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

Jonathan Powell, producer of "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy", has stated that the BBC considered producing "The Honourable Schoolboy", but decided not to do so due to the prohibitive cost of filming a mini-series in South East Asia. Therefore the BBC moved directly on to the third novel of the Karla Trilogy, "Smiley's People", which was broadcast in 1982.


In a foreword to a later edition of "The Honourable Schoolboy", John le Carré stated that the story might have worked better had George Smiley been omitted, since, he felt, Smiley's appearances in the novel detracted from the protagonist, the Honourable Jerry Westerby.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужно сделать НИР?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • The Quest for Karla — (1982), by John le Carré, is an omnibus edition of three novels concerning George Smiley s fight against Karla, his counterpart in Moscow Centre (the Soviet KGB). The Karla Trilogy includes:* Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1974) * The Honourable… …   Wikipedia

  • The Constant Gardener — This article is about the novel. For the film, see The Constant Gardener (film). For the trust, see Constant Gardener Trust. The Constant Gardener   …   Wikipedia

  • Call for the Dead — infobox Book | name = Call for the Dead title orig = translator = image caption = author = John le Carré illustrator = cover artist = country = United Kingdom language = English series = George Smiley genre = Crime, Spy novel publisher = Gollancz …   Wikipedia

  • Publishers Weekly list of bestselling novels in the United States in the 1970s — For other uses of the term, please see the disambiguation page at Best sellers .This is a list of bestselling novels in the United States in the 1970s, as determined by Publishers Weekly. The list features the most popular novels of each year… …   Wikipedia

  • William Pitt the Younger — Infobox Prime Minister honorific prefix=The Right Honourable name =William Pitt imagesize=200px order =Prime Minister of the United Kingdom term start =10 May 1804 term end =23 January 1806 monarch =George III predecessor =Henry Addington… …   Wikipedia

  • 1977 in literature — The year 1977 in literature involved some significant events and new books.Events*Douglas Adams begins writing for BBC radio. *V. S. Naipaul declines the offer of a CBE. *Christopher Tolkien, with Guy Gavriel Kay, completes and publishes his… …   Wikipedia

  • Gold Dagger — The Gold Dagger Award was an award given annually by the Crime Writers Association for the best crime novel of the year. For its first five years, the organization s top honor was known as the Crossed Red Herring Award. From 1995 to 2002 the… …   Wikipedia

  • John le Carré — in Hamburg, 2008 Born David John Moore Cornwell October 19, 1931 (1931 10 19) (age 80) Poole, Dorset, England …   Wikipedia

  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy — For the film based on the novel, see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (film). Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy   …   Wikipedia

  • George Smiley — is a fictional character created by John le Carré. Smiley is an intelligence officer working for MI6 (often referred to as the Circus in the novels and films), the British overseas intelligence agency. He is a central character in the novels Call …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”