Wilbur A. Smith Biography

Wilbur Smith is the author of numerous popular and best-selling novels including ‘When the Lion Feeds’ and ‘Men of Men’. To know more about the childhood, career, profile and timeline of this prolific writer read on

Quick Facts

Birthday: January 9, 1933

Nationality: Central African

Famous: Millionaires Novelists

Age: 87 Years, 87 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Capricorn

Also Known As: Wilbur Addison Smith, WILBUR SMITH, Smith Wilbur, Wilbur Smith

Born in: Kabwe

Famous as: Novelist


Spouse/Ex-: Anne Smith, Danielle Antoinette Thomas, Jewell Sabbert, Mokhiniso Smith

father: Elfreda Smith

mother: Herbert James Smith

children: Christian Smith, Dieter Schmidt, Kawrence Smith, Shaun Smith

More Facts

education: Rhodes University, Cordwalles Preparatory School

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Wilbur Smith came from very humble beginnings to become a global number one best-selling author and millionaire. In his early life, neither his father nor his educational institutions put any merit into literary achievement. Though he desperately desired to write and had a strong passion for reading, he accepted his father’s criticism and hunkered down into the mundane and typical life he was expected to lead. His early adulthood left him in a boring dead end tax job and divorced from a marriage that had resulted in two children, he was now separated from. Facing failure in the life he didn’t want in the first place, he decided to try his hand at what he really loved. He had a rough start with his very first novel and no publisher would accept it. He put all of his focus in creating a unique, exciting work and eventually came up with ‘When the Lion Feeds,’ writing about things more familiar to him. From the moment the book reached the publishers hands, Wilbur Smith became an instant star. His novel brought in plenty of money for him to become a full time author. Since his beginnings, he has published over 30 popular novels

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Childhood & Early Life
  • Upon graduation from ‘Rhodes University’ in Grahamstown, South Africa, he realized his true dream was to become a journalist. His father was against this notion and told his son to get a real job. Smith followed his father’s advice and became a chartered accountant, got married, and had children.
  • His first marriage ended in divorce at which point he decided to return to his true passion, literature. In 1964, he published ‘When the Lion Feeds’, his first successful novel.
  • His extreme success with his first real novel allowed him to become the writer he had always wanted to be. From that point on he has published an average of one book every 1-2 years.
  • For the remainder of the 60s, he published ‘The Dark of the Sun’,‘The Sound of Thunder’, and ‘Shout at the Devil’. His ‘Dark of the Sun’ novel was adapted to film and called ‘The Mercenaries’, which debuted in 1968.
  • During the 70s he was able to publish 9 books in just 10 years. ‘Sparrow Falls’, his eleventh book was giant success. During the decade, his novels ‘Gold Mine’, and ‘The Diamond Hunters’ were adapted into the movies ‘Gold’ and ‘The Kingfisher Caper’ respectively.
  • During the 80s decade, he was able to publish 8 more successful novels. Famous titles include ‘Men of Men’,‘Power of the Sword’, and ‘Rage’.
  • The 1990s brought six more additions to his collection of published works. The same year, his writing was converted into a television movie and two television min-series.
  • From 2000 to 2015, he has continued to impress his fans with 8 publications including‘Warlock', 'Blue Horizon', 'The Triumph of the Sun', 'The Quest', 'Assegai', 'Those in Peril', 'Vicious Circle' and 'Desert God'.
  • In 2001, his writing inspired the TV miniseries ‘The Diamond Hunters.’
Major Works
  • In 1964, his agent in London sent his novel ‘When the Lion Feeds’, to the Managing Director of the publishing house. When the publishing company received the novel, they immediately gave him an unheard of advance of 2,000 pounds. It was agreed that he would additionally receive 10% royalty. Together, these terms allowed him to live off this book alone for the next five years. Later the book became a film.
Awards & Achievements
  • His first award, the form prize for best English Essay, was given to him while he was still in boarding school. He had become the young protégé of an English master and this award opened up his eyes that he could pursue a writing career.
  • In 2002, he was awarded the Inaugural Sport Shooting Ambassador Award. It was given to him by the World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • His first two marriages were unsuccessful and resulted in three children. He had two sons, Kawrence and Shaun, and one daughter Christian.
  • In 1971, he married one of his huge fans, Danielle Thomas. The two remained married for 28 years until she passed away from debilitating cancer.He also adopted his third wife’s son from a previous relationship, Dieter Schmidt.
  • In 2000, he married MokhinisoRakhimova. She is 39 years younger than him, but the couple has been successful and they are currently living happily together.
  • This prolific author has sold more than 120 million novels around the world and been named a global number one best seller. His books have inspired nine films, mini TV series, and screenplays.
  • During an interview in 2011, the reporter questioned whether Wilbur was still writing. His response was, ‘I’m still breathing, aren’t I?’

See the events in life of Wilbur A. Smith in Chronological Order

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