Harry Palmer is the name of the protagonist of a number of films based on the main character from the spy novels written by Len Deighton. Michael Caine played Harry Palmer in the films based on three of the first four of the published novels featuring this character, and also later in two films not based on Len Deighton's novels.
Len Deighton introduced the lead character in The IPCRESS File, his first novel, published in November 1962. However, in that first-person novel, the secret agent is anonymous, although at one point in he is greeted by someone saying "Hello, Harry"; he later says, "Now my name isn't Harry, but in this business it's hard to remember whether it ever had been.".
Deighton's spy is described as working class, living in a back street flat and seedy hotels, and shopping in supermarkets. He wears glasses, is hindered by bureaucracy, and craves a pay rise.
Further novels featuring this character quickly followed in Horse Under Water (1963), Funeral in Berlin (1964), and Billion-Dollar Brain (1966). Again however the lead protagonist is never named at any point, although they are clearly the same character in all of the books.
Later novels and discrepancies
In 1974, the novel Spy Story was published, followed in 1976 by Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Spy (also known as Catch A Falling Spy in North America). As the protagonist also remains anonymous in both of these novels, it is open to debate whether or not 'Harry Palmer' is the same narrator of these last two novels as in the earlier books. There is conflicting evidence for either view.
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