TINKER, tailor, soldier I author. Those seeking a career as the latter are about to get a helping hand from one of Britain's most successful novelists John le Carre.
The spy capturer, real name David Cornwell, is joining forces with Falmouth College of Arts in Cornwall, to help bring struggling writers in from the cold.
The David and Jane Cornwell Charitable Trust has granted the college a Pounds 5,000-a-year bursary to support students taking its postgraduate diploma in professional writing.
The Springboard Award, it has been pledged for five years and will then be reviewed.
Le Carre, best known as the creator of George Smiley, lives in Cornwall with his wife Jane, a former publisher and literary agent.
He says: "We hope the award will be used flexibly and imaginatively. One candidate may need six months to complete a novel or a play. Another shows exceptional talent as a copywriter but is so broke that he can't make it to Falmouth. A third wants to try freelance journalism and needs to pay the gas bill. We would like them all to be equally eligible."
Mr le Carre's own career as an author began out of boredom. After getting a first at Oxford and teaching at Eton, he was wooed into MI5 and MI6 and in 1962 was posted to the British embassy in Bonn.
He once admitted: "Often there was nothing to do for what seemed like endless periods. I began to write to fill the time."
The following year The Spy Who Came In From The Cold became an instant best-seller.
Falmouth College of Arts became involved with John le Carre after principal Professor Alan Livingston met him socially. After hearing about the writing course, the author approached the college with the offer of a grant.
The college says its 30-week postgraduate writing course aims to offer students a wide range of skills, including writing for performance, journalism, corporate communications and public relations.
Candidates will have to demonstrate outstanding writing ability or promise. They will be selected by a panel of three of the college's academic staff and two from publishing or advertising.
The course begins in January next year and will take 15 students. A college spokeswoman said the bursary could be split between two candidates.
Professor Livingston said: "I am confident that this bursary will help future students make their mark in publishing, television and other related industries."