Wilbur Smith is a bestselling Zambian-born author who published 49 books, translated into thirty languages, and sold over 140 million copies.
Smith was born to a British family in Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, in Central Africa, and attended Rhodes University in South Africa. He grew up amidst the African forests, hills, and savannah on his parents' ranch, where he also developed skills as a big game hunter, pilot, and scuba diver.
He credited his mother for instilling in him a love for nature and reading, while his father, a strict disciplinarian, gifted him a rifle at the age of eight.
Smith became widely known, captivating audiences with his daring adventure tales that transported readers from exotic islands to the jungles of Africa, even delving into the realms of Ancient Egypt and World War II.
In 1964, Wilbur Smith made his literary entrance with the novel When the Lion Feeds, delving into the life of a young man raised on a South African cattle ranch. This initial work paved the way for 15 additional books, weaving a captivating saga of an enterprising family across two centuries.
His bestselling Courtney series held the record for the longest-running series in publishing history, spanning generations and three centuries, traversing significant periods from the dawn of colonial Africa to the American Civil War and the apartheid era in South Africa.
In his memoir, On Leopard Rock (2018), Smith recounted facing "challenging times, difficult marriages… burning the midnight oil with little progress, but in the end, it all added up to an immensely fulfilling and wonderful life.
"I hope to be remembered as someone who brought joy to millions," the author wrote.
A staunch conservationist, Smith managed his game reserve and owned a tropical island in the Seychelles.
Wilbur Smith died at his Cape Town home. He was 88.
According to Kate Parkin, a managing director at Bonnier Books, Smith leaves behind a wealth of novels, including co-authored works that have yet to be published.
Photo credit: FB @WilburSmith