Wilbur Smith


December 3, 2021

Wilbur Addison Smith (January 9, 1933, Broken Hill, Northern Rhodesia, present-day Zambia - November 13, 2021, Cape Town) was an English-speaking author of adventure novels. He wrote 49 of them, the most famous being the three sagas: Courtney, Ballantyne and Ancient Egyptian. At the time of his death, he had 140 million copies sold worldwide.


He was born in Zambia to British parents. He later referred to himself as "Anglo-African," spending most of his life in South Africa and London. His father, Herbert, was a metalworker who opened a small sheet metal factory and then bought a number of smaller farms to create a 10,000-hectare ranch on the banks of the Kafue River. His father was also a passionate hunter. Wilbur later took over this hobby, and wild beast hunting is also a typical theme of his books. In his autobiography, On Leopard Rock Smith claimed that his father had never read any books or read any of Wilbur's works. On the contrary, the mother was very interested in literature and led her son to read and write. As a year and a half old child, he suffered from cerebral malaria, but was successfully cured. At the age of sixteen, he contracted polio. This experience later inspired him especially in the design of the character of Garrick Courtney, the hero of his most famous saga. He studied in the South African Union (now South Africa) at Michaelhouse in Natal and at Rhodes University in Grahamstown. He published his first book, When a Lion Hunts, in 1964 and immediately became a bestseller, enabling him to become a full-time writer. He had three children with the first two women, and both marriages ended in divorce. He married Danielle Thomas for the third time in 1971, who died of cancer in 1999. Then, in 2000, he married Mokhiniso Rakhimov, a Tajik woman. In 2007, he was a guest of the Book World fair in Prague and gave an interview to Marek Eben in the television show Na plovárně.


Wilbur Smith has written 49 titles, which have been published in 140 million copies and translated into about 30 languages. His first film When Hunting a Lion becomes a bestseller. The novels are characterized by an engaging plot with unexpected twists and turns, mostly taking place in Africa, which is a great inspiration for the author. Emphasis is placed on the authenticity of the message and the details are processed consistently. The work is based on the sagas of the Courtney and Ballantyne families. Another successful series following the novel The Greek of the Gods set in ancient Egypt was produced as a television series called The Mystery of the River of the Gods.

The Courtney Saga

The series takes place from the end of the 19th century to the 1980s: When the Lion Feeds (1964) The Sound of Thunder (1966) A Sparrow Falls (1977) The Burning Shore (1985) Power of the Sword (1986) Rage (1987) A Time to Die (1989) Golden Fox (1990), series set in the 17th and 18th centuries: Birds of Prey (1997) Monsoon (1999) Blue Horizon (2003) Golden Lion (2015) Novel following The Triumph of the Sun: Spear of Destiny (Assegai, 2009, Czech 2010) The Tiger's Prey (2018) Courtney's war (2019)

The Ballantyne saga

Stone Falcon Empire (A Falcon Flies or Flight of the Falcon, 1980) Harder than a diamond (Men of Men, 1981) The Angels Weep (1982) The Leopard Hunts in Darkness (1984)

A novel with the fates of both families (Courtney and Ballantyne)

The Triumph Of The Sun (2005) - set in Sudan during the Mahdi Uprising King of kings (2019)

Ancient Egypt

River God I (1993) River of the Gods - Desert God (2014) was published in 11/14 and follows on from Part 1 The river god

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