Heywood Hill Bookshop (10 Curzon Street, Mayfair) - Tinker Tailor Location
One of the easiest Tinker Tailor locations to find is the bookshop where we first meet George Smiley in the series. Nestling in the heart of Mayfair since 1936 is the Heywood Hill bookshop, where novelist Nancy Mitford worked during the second half of World War II.
In the Tinker Tailor novel Smiley never actually makes it to the Heywood Hill bookshop as he is intercepted by Roddy Martindale who is just leaving Trumper's, which is located right next door to the bookshop.
The scene in the bookshop was written specifically to address concerns Alec Guinness had about the character of Smiley beginning too passively in the screenplay. Guinness wanted the audience to get 'a swift glimpse of the professional’ before Smiley is ambushed by Martindale, so John le Carre and screenwriter Arthur Hopcraft came up with the idea of using a Byron quote as a mild protest Smiley makes as he buys a book - ‘Barabbas was a publisher’.
(This establishing shot of the bookshop and Trumper's in the series is taken from the corner of Half Moon Street.)
The chairman of the Heywood Hill bookshop, Nicky Dunne, was kind enough to provide a little bit of background information about connections between Alec Guinness, John le Carre and the bookshop:
I can tell you that I believe Alec Guinness was a customer of the shop until his death, and Mr Cornwell was an occasional visitor too. He used to drop in to see an old friend, a German bookseller still working at HH who could herself have stepped from his pages.
I also believe Heywood Hill featured in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy because it was indeed a haunt for some of those working locally in the post-war intelligence services.
My thanks to Nicky for sharing his insights.
The casino where Smiley interviews Sam Collins is also very close to the bookshop and that location will feature in a subsequent post.