This map plots the settings and references in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold
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In the early 1960s, Berlin still bore the scars of war damage. After the building of the Berlin Wall by the GDR in 1961, crossing from East to West was strictly controlled and potentially lethal to those without the correct papers. Upon leaving the eastern sector, travellers would read the message: Let us work together for peace and understanding! The German Peace Treaty restrains the West German warmongering.
The first chapter is set in the western sector, at a checkpoint crossing into the eastern side of the city. This is probably Checkpoint Charlie, as this was the only crossing point open both ways to civilians with the correct papers.
The strip of land running alongside the Wall later became known as the 'death strip' as it was patrolled by East German border guards with orders to shoot to kill. Even after the wall had come down, evidence of the death strip remained.
For a factual account of East Berlin under communist rule, read Stasiland by Anna Funder.
Alec Leamas is recalled to London after his last remaining agent is shot while crossing the border. Living a cover story, Leamas eventually finds work at a library in Bayswater, where Liz Gold also lives.
Upon his release from a three month prison sentence, Leamas takes a little time to enjoy London in the spring, beginning at Marble Arch. This is where his first encounter with the East German intelligence network takes place, after which he makes his circuitous way across London, to Chelsea and the home of George Smiley.
With his East German contacts, Leamas visits a Chinese restaurant, followed by a strip club in Wardour Street, an area famous in the 1960s for its plethora of seedy nightclubs, strip clubs and bars, as well as being a centre for the British film and music industry. Its reputation is more salubrious nowadays, but it is still packed with restaurants and bars.
Leamas is taken to a farmhouse deep within East Germany, officially known as the German Democratic Republic. The building is described as a farmhouse made up to look like a hunting lodge, but it is in a state of disuse. Half-timbered with whitewashed bricks and set in an isolated position in a forest, perhaps it looked a little like this German farmhouse before a major renovation.
The drama then shifts to Görlitz in the far east of Germany, near the Polish border.
Meanwhile Liz Gold has been invited to a conference, as Secretary of the Bayswater Branch of the British Communist Party, in Leipzig.
In John Le Carré's espionage novels, the British Secret Intelligence Service is headquartered at Cambridge Circus in London, where Shaftesbury Avenue and Charing Cross Road meet. For this reason, the HQ is known throughout his novels as "the Circus". Whether or not the author intended this nickname to be a wry comment on the smooth and efficient running of British Intelligence is unknown.
In real life, SIS (also known as MI6) was at the time of this novel based in St James's Street and Broadway, moving in 1966 to Century House in Lambeth. It now occupies a rather grander headquarters at Vauxhall Cross. All that you're likely to find at Cambridge Circus is the Palace Theatre and a lot of traffic.
An imposing block of apartments in Pimlico, built between 1935 and 1937, complete with tennis courts, swimming pool and shopping arcade. Anne, the Princess Royal, and Harold Wilson both lived there.
A Soviet spy, John Vassall, who was arrested in 1962 (the year before this novel was published) had an apartment in Dolphin Square. Both the Free French of Charles de Gaulle and MI5 used apartments here.