Bestselling author Wilbur Smith dies aged 88

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The Zambia-born novelist Wilbur Smith’s novels sold over 140 million copies worldwide in more than thirty languages.

Smith chronicled dramatic adventures on the African continent, creating internationally-acclaimed fiction.
Smith chronicled dramatic adventures on the African continent, creating internationally-acclaimed fiction.
(HAIDER SHAH / AFP Archive)

Internationally acclaimed author Wilbur Smith has died at age 88 after a decades-long career in writing.

The novelist unexpectedly passed away at his home in South Africa on Saturday, according to statements released on the Wilbur Smith Books website, as well as by his publishers Bonnier Books UK.

“Global bestselling author Wilbur Smith died unexpectedly this afternoon at his Cape Town home after a morning of reading and writing with his wife Niso by his side,” the statements read.

The cause of death was not revealed.

His office thanked “millions of fans across the world who cherished his incredible writing and joined us all on his amazing adventures”.

‘Larger than life’

Born in Zambia in 1933 to a British family, Smith was also a big game hunter, having grown up experiencing the forest, hills and savannah of Africa on his parents’ ranch.

He contracted cerebral malaria when he was just one-year-and-half, an ailment so serious there were fears he would be brain damaged if he survived.

“It probably helped me because I think you have to be slightly crazy to try to earn a living from writing,” he later reflected.

Smith “leaves behind him a treasure-trove of novels,” including unpublished co-authored books, according to a managing director at Bonnier Books.

With 49 titles under his belt and over 140 million copies sold worldwide in more than thirty languages, Smith’s adventure stories took readers from tropical islands to the jungles of Africa and even Ancient Egypt and World War II.

He also used his vast experiences outside of Africa, in places like Switzerland and rural Russia, to help create his fictional worlds.

Several of his books were made into films, including “Shout at the Devil,” 1976.

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

Source: TRTWorld and agencies


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