South Africa: Legendary Author Wilbur Smith Dies Aged 88

During his decadeslong career in writing, Wilbur Smith specialized in historical fiction, taking readers from tropical islands to the jungles of Africa.

World-renowned writer Wilbur Smith died at his home in South Africa on Saturday aged 88, his office said.

“We are sorry to announce that the beloved, global bestselling author Wilbur Smith passed away unexpectedly this afternoon at his Cape Town home, with his wife Niso by his side,” said a message posted on the author’s official Twitter account on Saturday night.

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 Foundation.

The statements did not reveal the cause of death.

During his decadeslong career as a writer, Smith authored 49 novels and sold over 140 million copies worldwide in more than 30 languages.

“We are so grateful to his millions of fans across the world who cherished his incredible writing and joined us all on his amazing adventures,” Wilbur Smith’s office said in a tweet.

From accountant to bestselling author

Smith was born in today’s Zambia in 1933 to a British family. He grew up experiencing the forest, hills and savannah of Africa on his parents’ ranch. He credited his mother with teaching him to love nature and reading.

Smith wanted to become a journalist and write about social conditions in South Africa. But his father’s advice to “get a real job” led him to become a tax accountant. Still, his love of writing didn’t die.