Legendary author Wilbur Smith dies aged 88


World renowned writer Wilbur Smith died Saturday at his home in South Africa at the age of 88, his office said.

“We are sorry to announce that beloved world-renowned bestselling author Wilbur Smith passed away unexpectedly this afternoon at his Cape Town home with his wife Niso,” reads a message posted on the author’s official Twitter account on Saturday evening.

Similar statements have been posted on the Wilbur Smith Books website and social media pages, as well as the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation website.

The statements did not reveal the cause of death.

During his long career as a writer, Smith wrote 49 novels and sold over 140 million copies worldwide in over 30 languages.

“We are so grateful to his millions of fans around the world who treasured his incredible creativity and joined us all on his amazing adventures,” reads a tweet from Wilbur Smith’s office.

From accountant to bestselling author

Smith was born in today’s Zambia in 1933 to British parents. He grew up in African forests, hills and savannas on his parents’ ranch. He believed that his mother taught him to love nature and to read.

Smith wanted to become a journalist and write about social conditions in South Africa. But his father’s advice to “get a real job” led him to become a tax accountant. However, his love of writing hasn’t died.

Smith contracted cerebral malaria when he was just 18 months old and feared that he would have brain damage if he survived. “It probably helped me because I think you have to be a little crazy to try to make a living writing,” he mused later.

In 1964, the author published his first novel, When the Lion Feeds, about a young man who grew up on a South African ranch. It became an instant bestseller and produced 15 sequels that chronicle the fortunes of an ambitious family over more than 200 years.

Smith said the novel remains his favorite because it was published for the first time.

His bestseller, The Courtney Series, was the longest-running in publishing history, spanning generations and three centuries, “through critical periods from the dawn of colonial Africa to the American Civil War to apartheid in South Africa,” said its publisher. …

But it was with Taita, the hero of his Egyptian Series, that Wilbur “identified himself most clearly, and River God is still one of his favorite novels,” he added.

‘More life icon’

According to Keith Parkin, managing director of Bonnier Books, the author “leaves behind a treasure trove of novels,” including co-authored unpublished books.

Kevin Conroy Scott, his literary agent for the past decade, described him as “an icon greater than life” and said that his “knowledge of Africa and his imagination know no limits.”

Smith was married four times, with his last wife, Mohiniso Rakhimova from Tajikistan, who was 39 years his junior.


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