World-renowned author Wilbur Smith died on Saturday at the age of 88 at his home in South Africa, his office said.
A message posted on the author’s official Twitter account on Saturday night read: “We are sorry to announce that dear, global bestselling author Wilbur Smith has unexpectedly passed away this afternoon at his Cape Town home with his wife Niso. passed away.”
Similar statements were published on the Wilbur Smith Books website and social media pages, as well as on the website of The Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundations.
The cause of death has not been disclosed in the statements.
During his decades-long career as a writer, Smith wrote 49 novels and sold more than 140 million copies worldwide in more than 30 languages.
Wilbur Smith’s office said in a tweet, “We are extremely grateful to his millions of fans around the world who cherish his incredible writing and join us all in his amazing adventures.”
From accountant to bestselling author
Smith was born in today’s Zambia to a British family in 1933. He grew up experiencing the jungles, hills and savannas of Africa on his parents’ farm. He credits his mother for loving nature and teaching him to read.
Smith wanted to become a journalist and write about the social conditions in South Africa. But his father’s advice to “get a real job” inspired him to become a tax accountant. Nevertheless, his love for writing did not wan.
Smith was diagnosed with cerebral malaria when he was just 18 months old and feared he would suffer brain damage if he survived. “It probably helped because I think you have to be a little crazy trying to make a living from writing,” he later reflected.
In 1964, the author published his first novel, “When the Lion Feeds”, which tells the story of a young man growing up on a South African cattle ranch. It became an instant bestseller and led to 15 sequels tracing the fortunes of an ambitious family for over 200 years.
Smith said that the novel remained his favorite since it was his first published.
His bestselling “Courtney Series” was the longest-running in publication history, spanning generations and three centuries, “through the critical period from the beginning of colonial Africa to the American Civil War and the apartheid era in South Africa,” his publisher said. said .
But it was with Tata, the protagonist of his “Egyptian series,” that Wilbur “identified most strongly, and River God remains one of his favorite novels to this day,” it added.
‘Greater than life symbol’
According to Kate Parkin, managing director of Bonnier Books, the author “leaves a wealth of novels behind”, including unpublished co-authored books.
His literary agent for the past decade, Kevin Conroy Scott, described him as “an icon, larger than life” and said that his “knowledge of Africa, and his imagination knew no bounds.”
Smith was married four times, with his last wife from Tajikistan, Mokhiniso Rakhimova, 39 years his junior.