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.

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Wilbur Smith – A Life in Books

By | Authors, Literature | One Comment
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. Read More



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