Rediscover: Wilbur Smith

Adventure writer Wilbur Smith, whose 49 novels--including the long-running Courtney series--have sold more than 140 million copies worldwide, died November 13 at age 88. Smith's "instinctive grasp of narrative, the rich material of his upbringing and the boundless story opportunities of his African homeland produced a string of novels that thrilled an ever-growing readership," the Wilbur Smith Books site noted. Smith's first novel, When the Lion Feeds (1964), was a bestseller and each of his subsequent novels has achieved comparable success. The Bookseller noted that after publishing 34 books with Pan Macmillan, Smith had moved to HarperCollins "in 2012 in a six-book deal said to be worth £15 million [about US$20 million].... More than 50 years after his debut, he signed an eight-figure deal with Bonnier Zaffre in 2017, described by then Bonnier Publishing group chief executive Richard Johnson as 'one of the biggest in publishing history.' "

A passionate advocate of adventure fiction, Smith shared his love for the genre through the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation, founded by Smith and his wife in 2015. Dedicated to building the readership for adventure fiction and the promotion of reading and writing for younger generations across the world, the foundation's work will continue. In his 2018 memoir On Leopard Rock, Smith wrote: "I've had tough times, bad marriages, people I loved dearly dying in my arms, burnt the midnight oil getting nowhere, but it has, all in the end, added up to a phenomenally fulfilled and wonderful life."

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