Best-selling author Wilbur Smith dies aged 88

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Novelist Wilbur Smith has died aged 88 at his home in Cape Town.

The internationally acclaimed Zambia-born author died on Saturday after a morning of reading and writing with his wife Niso, his publisher Bonnier Books said in a statement.

Smith published 49 novels throughout his career, selling more than 140 million copies worldwide.

The statement said: “Wilbur Smith’s very first novel When The Lion Feeds, published in 1964, was an instant bestseller and each of his subsequent novels has featured in the bestseller charts, often at number one, earning the author the opportunity to travel far and wide in search of inspiration and adventure.

It said Smith was a “passionate advocate of adventure fiction”, adding: “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.

“However, it was with Taita, the hero of his acclaimed Egyptian Series, that Wilbur most strongly identified, and River God remains one of his best-loved novels to this day.”

Smith’s long-term literary agent, Kevin Conroy Scott, said: “Wilbur Smith was an icon, larger than life, beloved by his fans who collected his books in hardbacks and passed his work down through generations, fathers to sons and mothers to daughters.

“His knowledge of Africa, and his imagination knew no limitations.

“His work ethic and his powerful, elegant writing style made him known to millions.

“I cherish the role of working side by side with his wife Niso and the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation to keep the flame of his fictional universe alive for many years to come.”

Kate Parkin, managing director of Adult Trade Publishing for Bonnier Books UK, said: “It is with deep sadness that we mourn the death of our beloved author Wilbur Smith whose seemingly inexhaustible creative energy and passion for storytelling will long live on in the hearts and minds of readers everywhere.

“Wilbur never lost his appetite for writing and remained working every day of his life.

“He leaves behind him a treasure-trove of novels, as well as completed and yet to be published co-authored books and outlines for future stories.

“It has been a privilege and an honour to work closely with him on this remarkable publishing legacy and we look forward to sharing them with his millions of fans worldwide in years to come.”

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