Legendary novelist Wilbur Smith dies aged 88: publisher

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Nov 14 2021 07:40 AM | Updated as of Nov 14 2021 09:05 AM

In this file photo, internationally acclaimed Central African born author, Wilbur Smith, shares his experience during the second day of the International Festival of Literature in Dubai on February 27, 2009. Wilbur Smith, has died in South Africa aged 88, his publisher announced November 13, 2021. Haider Shah/AFP
In this file photo, internationally acclaimed Central African born author, Wilbur Smith, shares his experience during the second day of the International Festival of Literature in Dubai on February 27, 2009. Wilbur Smith, has died in South Africa aged 88, his publisher announced November 13, 2021. Haider Shah/AFP

JOHANNESBURG (UPDATE) - Internationally acclaimed author Wilbur Smith has died in South Africa aged 88, his publisher announced Saturday.

"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," said a statement released on the Wilbur Smith Books website.

With 49 titles under his belt since his first novel 'When the Lion Feeds' was published in 1964, Smith became a household name in literature.

"The undisputed and inimitable master of adventure writing, Wilbur Smith's novels have gripped readers for over half a century, selling over 140 million copies worldwide in more than thirty languages," said the statement.

His bestselling 'Courtney Series', was the longest running in publishing history, said the statement.

It spanned generations and three centuries, "through critical periods from the dawn of colonial Africa to the American Civil War, and to the apartheid era in South Africa". 

"In the 49 novels Smith has published to date, he has transported his readers to gold mines in South Africa, piracy on the Indian Ocean, buried treasure on tropical islands, conflict in Arabia and Khartoum, ancient Egypt, World War Two Germany and Paris, India, the Americas and the Antarctic, encountering ruthless diamond and slave traders and big game hunters in the jungles and bush of the African wilderness".

But it was with Taita, the hero of his 'Egyptian Series', that Wilbur "most strongly identified, and River God remains one of his best-loved novels to this day", said the statement.

His office thanked Smith's "millions of fans across the world who cherished his incredible writing and joined us all on his amazing adventures".

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