Legendary thriller writer Wilbur Smith dies at home in Cape Town at the age of 88

Legendary thriller Wilbur Smith dies “unexpectedly” at home in Cape Town at the age of 88 after spending the morning reading and writing with his wife Niso.

  • Author Wilbur Smith, 88, died Saturday afternoon at his home in Cape Town
  • The South African novelist spent the morning reading with his wife Niso
  • The legendary author of thrillers has sold more than 140 million books in 30 languages
  • Many of his 49 novels follow the achievements of the Courtney family all over the globe










Legendary thriller writer Wilbur Smith died this afternoon at his home in Cape Town after spending the morning reading and writing with his wife Niso.

The 88-year-old author has sold more than 140 million books in 30 languages.

Many of his 49 novels featured the Courtney family, following their exploits all over the globe for three centuries.

His debut novel, When the Lion Feeds, published in 1964 was an instant bestseller, and his personal life was as adventurous as his fictional characters.

Legendary thriller writer Wilbur Smith died this afternoon at his home in Cape Town after spending the morning reading and writing with his wife Niso.

The author has been published in more than 30 languages

The author has been published in more than 30 languages

A statement on the South African author’s Twitter page reads: “We are sorry to announce that the beloved, global bestselling author Wilbur Smith passed away unexpectedly this afternoon at his home in Cape Town, with his wife Niso next to him.”

Kevin Conroy Scott, a literary agent for Wilbur Smith for the past 11 years, said: “Wilbur Smith was an icon, bigger than life, loved by his fans who collected his books on cardboard and passed on his work through generations, fathers to sons and mothers to daughters.

‘His knowledge of Africa and his imagination knew no bounds. His work ethic and his powerful, elegant writing style introduced him to millions.

“I love 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.”

Earlier this year, Smith published the latest book in the Courtney family’s adventures, Legacy of War, which takes place after World War II in the aftermath of Courtney’s War.

Smith was a well-known bushman and survivor. He was also a great hunter, pilot and experienced scuba diver.

Smith has written historical books on South Africa through four centuries from the points of view of both white and black families.

He was born in Zambia on January 9, 1933, and grew up on his father’s cattle for the first few years of his life. He fell ill with malaria when he was only 18 months old, but remarkably fully recovered.

Smith, pictured with his wife Niso, on the right, has sold more than 140 million books since 1964.

Smith, pictured with his wife Niso, on the right, has sold more than 140 million books since 1964.

His biography said: ‘As an eighteen-month-old baby I was stricken with cerebral malaria, delirious for ten days.

– The doctors told my parents that it would probably be better if I died, because if I survived, I would have a brain injury.

– Despite the primitive medical facilities available in Africa in those days, their prediction proved correct; I survived and now it’s just a little crazy. Which is good because you have to be at least a little crazy to write fiction to make a living. ‘

Smith wanted to be a journalist but became an auditor by training before publishing When the Lion Feeds and securing a film contract for the novel.

He married his first wife Anne Rennie in July 1957, and they had a son Shaun and a Christian daughter together before they separated in 1962.

Smith had his third child Lawrence with his second wife Jewell Slabbart, whom he married in 1964, following the publication of his debut novel.

He married his third wife Danielle Thomas in 1971 and he dedicated all his books to her until she died in 1999, following a six-year illness. He adopted Danielle’s son from a previous relationship Dieter after growing up close to him.

He met his fourth wife Mokhiniso Rakhimova, known as Niso, at a bookstore in London in January 2000 and the two quickly fell in love before tying the knot just months later.

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