Author Wilbur Smith dies 'unexpectedly' at home, aged 88, with wife by his side

A statement posted on Wilbur Smith Books’ website reads: “Global bestselling author Wilbur Smith died unexpectedly at his Cape Town home this afternoon after reading and writing by his side one morning with his wife Niso.”

Wilbur Smith died at the age of 88 (

Image: AFP via Getty Images)

Best-selling author Wilbur Smith died “unexpectedly” at home at the age of 88.

A statement posted on Wilbur Smith Books’ website said: “Global bestselling author Wilbur Smith died unexpectedly at his Cape Town home this afternoon after reading and writing by his side one morning with his wife Niso.”

The author sold more than 140 million copies of his books worldwide and became famous in 1964 with his debut novel When the Lion Feeds.

The book, which tells the story of a young man growing up on a South African cattle ranch, is based in part on Smith’s own experience after he shot a lion at the age of just 13 that attacked cattle on his father’s farm.

Kevin Conroy Scott, literary agent for Wilbur Smith for the past 11 years, said: “Wilbur Smith was a larger-than-life icon loved by fans, who collected his hardcover books and passed his work down through generations, from fathers to sons and Mothers to daughters.

The author sold more than 140 million copies of his books worldwide
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Image:

Agf / REX / Shutterstock)

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

“I appreciate 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 years to come.”

Born in January 1933 in Northern Rhodesia, today’s Zambia, his other bestsellers included The River God and The Triumph of the Sun.

Kate Parkin, Managing Director of Adult Trade Publishing at Bonnier Books UK, added: “We are deeply saddened to mourn our beloved author Wilbur Smith, whose seemingly inexhaustible creative energy and passion for storytelling will live on in the hearts and minds of Readers everywhere.

“Wilbur never lost his passion for writing and worked every day of his life. He leaves behind a treasure trove of novels as well as finished and yet-to-be-published books and drafts for future stories.

“It has been a privilege and an honor to work closely with him on this remarkable legacy and we look forward to sharing it with his millions of fans around the world in the years to come.”

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