Wilbur Smith – A Life in Books

By January 9, 2018Authors, Literature

Wilbur Smith is a prolific novelist, specialising in historical fiction set mostly in, or regarding South Africa, it’s politics and the international involvement in the country over hundreds of years.

Smith was born in Northern Rhodesia (now Kabwe, Zambia) on 9th January 1933, His father was a metal worker, a tough man who Smith said had ‘probably never read a book in his life’. He hoped his son would go on to work with his hands, and spent Wilbur’s childhood trying to toughen him up. His mother was more encouraging of her son’s avid reading, encouraging him and seeing the potential of him receiving a good education.

While attending boarding school in Natal, Wilbur Smith continued to be an avid reader, and developed a good relationship with his English master, with whom he would discuss books. It was the Master who tough Smith that being a bookworm was worthy of praise and he was the first person to realise Smith’s writing potential.

Eventually, Smith would work on his father’s cattle ranch, served with the Rhodesian Police, and even tried out accountancy with the Inland Revenue before writing his first novel.

Eventually Smith would go back to writing fiction, selling his first story to Argozy magazine for 70 pounds, twice his monthly salary. Eventually he would go on to write ‘When the Lion Feeds’ and his debut novel was a success.

To date, Wilbur Smith has written 35 novels, selling more than 120 million copies. Many of his novels have been adapted for screen including ‘The Dark of the Sun’, filmed as ‘The Mercenaries’, ‘Shout at the Devil’, and ‘River God’.

Here’s Wilbur himself in an interview from 2009 (in two parts), a little while ago now and in it he talks of writing, his works, and his influences.

Private Lives of Authors: Hans Christian Andersen

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Hans Christian Andersen lead a life almost as full of intrigue and romance as his fairy tales. In perhaps unsurprising comparisons to Andersen’s The Little Mermaid, Doctor Alfred Charles Kinsey of the Institute for Sex Research noted:

“Andersen could not tell the world of his own homosexual love for the people of the world, but the original manuscripts showed his feelings clearly.”

 

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Watch the trailer for the new Mary Shelley movie here!

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Mary Shelley’s life was so full of passion and drama that it is perfect for the movies, and a new film directed by Haifaa Al Mansour hopes to do the great writer’s life justice.

Love, lust, and loss colour the story of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin and Percy Shelley which resulted in the classic horror tale Frankenstein. Elle Fanning (Maleficent, Box Trolls) and Douglas Booth (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) star as Mary and Percy, and take us with them on their heart-rending journey.

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10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About James Herbert

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James Herbert (8th April 1943 – 20th March 2013) was an English horror writer with book sales totalling more than 54 million books, translated into 34 languages.

Born in London, Herbert released his first novel, The Rats in 1974. This and many of his other works would go on to become major adaptations in their own right. He wrote and released work right up to w2012, just a year before his death and is said to be an inspiration to many other horror authors, including Stephen King, who described his writing as “like Mike Tyson in the ring, all brute force”. Read More

New Twitter game hilariously shames bad male authors

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A new Twitter game has taken the internet by storm!

Many women have noticed how female characters can be so badly written, especially by men. It is almost as if those male writers don’t see women as people, with complex personalities and 3-dimensional lives. The strange and often nonsensical over-description of women’s bodies  can be most irritating, and when a male writer has a female character narrating, it often becomes embarrassing for everyone involved.

Writer Gwen C. Katz noticed this happening again and again until one day, when faced with yet another ridiculous passage in a book she had begun reading, she tweeted a snippet from the book.

The discussion that followed prompted her fellow women readers and writers on Twitter to join in a game… Describe yourself as a male writer would. 

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Stephen King gives $50,000 to Portland elementary schools

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Stephen King set up The Stephen & Tabitha King Foundation in 1986 to provide support for communities in Maine. As a family foundation, their key focus is community, with much of the donations going towards education and community projects.

The STKF has recently awarded a $50,000 grant that will be used to help with providing books and a literacy program in Portland elementary schools.

Spokeswoman Kate Snyder noted that Portland public schools’ Books and Literacy Resources program will certainly benefit from the award with the $50,000 used to build book collections to also celebrate culture and language differences.

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Emile Zola: A Death Stranger than Fiction

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Emile Zola was born on 2nd April 1840 and died on 29th September 1902. His life was interesting and full, and by today’s standards his death, by carbon monoxide poisoning, was pretty mundane but back then in 1902 was considered to be mysterious and caused great controversy.

Zola accrued many enemies during his life and thanks to a series of death threats always slept with his bedroom door firmly closed and locked. On 1st September 1902, Zola and his wife, Alexandrine returned from a trip to the country on a wet, cold night. They returned to their house on the rue de Bruxelles in Paris. After lighting a coal fire, the pair retired to bed, the window shut and door locked due to the death threats Emile Zola had received. Read More



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