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Wilbur Smith
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A collated selection of well wishes, tributes and memories of Wilbur Smith

I have been reading Wilbur Smith's books for the past 30 years, since I was about 15. I have read every one of them. Through his writings i fell in love with Africa. I have visited South Africa twice and intend to visit other African nations too. Such was the power of his words that a girl from India fell in love with the land of Africa. Sir, you will be sorely missed by millions of fans who, like me, will be feeling this as a personal loss. May you rest in peace Sir, and know that your words have touched the lives of so many. Bless the family, you are in my thoughts and prayers. Much love. Mukulika Sengupta

My siblings and I started reading Wilbur Smith books once we were teenagers. Our mom would buy the latest book and after reading it, she would pass it down to us. I was always last in Iine but I didn't mind waiting as it just made the pleasure of reading the book more. I have read every book ever written by Mr Smith and loved the adventures he took me on. He will be sorely missed but I know I will reread all his books many times over and enjoy them just as much as I did the first time I read them. The world has lost one of its best authors but his legend will live on Maya Herbst

I first came across Wilbur Smith when my wife borrowed a copy of When the Lion Feeds from the local library - since then I have been hooked! I have read almost every book of Wilbur Smith's and thoroughly enjoyed them. Last year I decided to read again his entire history of the Courtneys from Sir Francis and Hal in the 1660s right up to Leon and Saffron fighting the MauMau in the 1950s. I was literally finishing one book and immediately picking up the next, it was so absorbing. And Taita! I have read both River God and The Seventh Scroll several times over plus all the others and I have just finished reading about Hui in Wilbur's latest book. One or two of Wilbur's books were good, most of the others were excellent, but every one was well worth reading. With his passing I mourn the loss of any more in the future although I believe that there are one or two 'in the pipeline' and if this is the case I look forward to them being released in due course. Well done Wilbur Smith, you have left a literary legacy that will be hard to beat. Jerry Cook

I read my first Wilbur Smith book at age 14 and was hooked from that moment. Wilbur's novels have been a constant through my entire adult life. In his pages, I found refuge from the pressures of the real world as he took me on fantastic adventures through the wilds of Africa and to every corner of the globe. Wilbur's works inspired me to become a writer myself and I am both humbled and proud to have been discovered by the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation and I will treasure forever our short chat on Skype. Thank you for everything you have given me over the years, the adventure and prose and the help with my own fledgling career. Rest in Peace, sir. My deepest sympathy to Niso and family. Bill Swiggs, Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation Unpublished Novel winner

I love all of his books, Sean Courtney is my favourite character in any book he has written. When I read his books I believe I am actually in Africa. Such a sad lost to the literary world. Neil Treanor

Thank you teacher Wilbur, it is thanks to you that I started reading, my first book was River God. You changed my life, you made me the man I am, you started it all. I owe you everything.

A big hug to Niso and to all your loved ones, who are living this difficult time, I am with you. Goodbye Master Wilbur, you are immortal, you are the greatest. Nicola Favuzzi

Dear Sirs, I was saddened to hear about Wilbur. His books has given me immense joy and excitement, even more as I have visited and lived many places he describes, like Khartoum, Nairobi And Cairo. Have read nearly everyone of his books, it’s always exciting and interesting. I feel like I am there in the story. Next year the plan is visit Cape Town, a wonderful city which I know a lot about thanks to Wilbur. May he rest in peace. Wilbur is the best author ever. Stein Eggan

I was 14 years old when I read my first Wilbur Smith book; it was The Sunbird, and I was immediately lost to the world, completely hooked on Mr. Smith's brand of adventure. It's been 20 years, I have read 39 more Wilbur Smith books, and there are just 6 more left for me to enjoy... Somehow, I imagined my favorite author would be with me forever, but even though he's not on this plain anymore, I know I will always be able to find his spirit whenever I want; I just have to open one of his books. Montana Kosovisá

Wilbur Smith gave me many sleepless nights as I could never put one of his books He is the only author to do that to me he will be greatly missed. Phil Ferris

We take heart, for the Son of Africa is in paradise this day! Thank you Sir, for gifting my childhood with the Ballantynes and Courtneys. A true artist, you painted vivid pictures with colourful words so that l couldn't tear myself away from these works. If such narratives can move a person one can only wonder what it is like to be in your magnetic presence! Vaya con Dios, Son of Africa. Tia Naido

My father is as a Wilbur Smith fanatic from as young as I can remember. In 2016 my father had a stroke - Niso very kindly sent me a voice message to play for my Dad sending him love and get well wishes. Even in his Ill state he had a flicker of pure happiness in his eyes. That once again proved to me the endless joy Wilbur brought to so many‚ and Niso was so instrumental in ensuring Wilbur’s happiness. Niso and Wilbur - you are both incredible human beings. Nicole Janse van Vuuren

Godspeed Wilbur, sadly missed but never forgotten. Thanks for all.the fantastic books. My deepest heartfelt sympathies to the family members. He will continue to live on through his books. Daniel Ranger

I have come across my first Wilbur Smith book at the airport in Melbourne flying to Frankfurt and needing a book for my long flight. That was in 1991 and the book was Birds of Prey. I was smitten, I had to share it with my dad. I bought every book available - the common interest established a beautiful bond between us. In the meantime I shared it with my whole family, eagerly awaiting the next one. Reading them, changed my relationship with Africa. His research and rich imagination is educational and enhancing. I love the many perspectives he presents. I love the Courtneys to this present day, as if they were my family. Charismatic and courageous. The Taita series is unbelievably beautiful. And I am looking forward to the release of this last one in the series. I love Wilbur Smith, he is the best adventurer - both in word and spirit. May he continue his adventures on his universal journey and may his spirit come back one day to bring more riches to the world.  Thank you, Wilbur, for making my live richer! Monika Patterson

I first read When The Lion Feeds about 1977 when my then boss recommended Wilbur Smith books. I read the book in a few days and was captivated by the scene when Sean had to shoot his mate because he was badly afflicted with rabies! But the whole story, introducing the Courtney's to the world, captivated me. I kept reading the books as they came out and hungered for the next. Wilbur you have left me with great memories of fantastic adventure stories. RIP my favorite reader and your passing has left a huge gap now in the world of literature and storytelling! Chris Klitzing

I was on a lads holiday in Germany in 1980 when I borrowed a book from one of the guys. The book was The Eagle in the Sky. From that moment on I was hooked and I have read every book he has written.  In fact I finished The New Kingdom a few days before Wilbur passed away.  His books have been a big part of my life since I first picked that book in 1980. Mick Wain

Shocked to know that the master storyteller is no more. I thought that he, like his and my favorite character, Taita, will live forever and he will continue to spin more and more stories.  When I was in my sister's house 20 years back I had nothing to read and came across River God. Initially I was reluctant to begin, looking into the size of the book but I started to read. After 50 pages my interest grew and finished in two days!!!. The experience was like seeing a thrilling suspense movie. Then began my journey with Wilbur. I used to purchase his books each payday. This continued though to The New Kingdom. Most of the books I read again and again. Can't count how many times I read River God. He will live in our memories forever and now he will entertain the Gods up there. RIP. G Ravindran

Wilbur took me through savannah of South Africa, he had me trekking through jungles seeking ivory. I sat with tears in my eyes as he had to shoot his friend who became rabid. I have sailed the high sea's and travelled the length and breadth of Egypt. Wilbur Smith took me to highs through his books I could never have dreamt of. At 73 I can't explain the excitement I felt when he released a new book. I feel as though I am related to both the Courtneys and the Ballantynes. One of my greatest treasures is a reply to a letter I sent to Wilbur relating to the Seventh Scroll. I shall never part with it. I hope when my time comes to leave this earth, I may meet the great man in the heaven above. To his family, be proud to have such a highly respected and deeply loved member of the family. His family includes all his readers who are heartbroken at his passing. RIP Wilbur my friend. Geoff Fawcett

I was born in Africa in Nairobi in 1957. We only lived there until I was six but in that time Africa was in my soul for ever. When I found Wilbur Smith as a teenager , it was as though he brought Africa back into my life, with all of his marvellous stories, where his love and knowledge of that remarkable continent came alive in my mind. A wonderful writer. I am so sad he is gone but he will always live on through his books. Julia Sheppard

Sir, you changed my life through your publications. You changed the way I saw Africa, and you changed me. Thanks for being there for me. Jan Oliver

Wilbur is my favorite author. A friend turned me on to A Time to Die in the 1990s and I was hooked. His vivid imagery and storylines kept me wanting more. Thank you for being such an inspiration. My condolences to the family. RIP Sir, it was a pleasure. Murray Mackinnon

I was slightly dyslexic and battled to read in my early school years, so began to withdraw from reading, especially when it was my turn in class. Thank God I picked up When The Lion Feeds when I was in Std 3, as this changed my life completely! I thereafter read prolifically, and managed throughout my school days without too much problem. Many thanks Wilbur Smith from me personally – you changed my like and inspired me to become an avid reader. Rest in Peace. Michelle Jeanine Crausaz

With tears in my eyes right now I write this message from my heart. Niso and family I am so sorry for your loss. I am ashamed to tell you that I am a former enforcer for gangsters, manager of the largest brothel in London, member of a biker and bodyguard. It was while serving 5yrs in prison for extortion where I got a job in the prison library. It was there where I picked up my first Wilbur Smith book When the Lion feeds, I was gripped from the start and requested the prison order more. My second book was Gold Mine, and then The Triumph of the Sun. Wilbur turned me on to reading and gave me a passion for storytelling. Partly due to his inspiration I worked with an author a few years later and co-wrote my biography, If A Wicked Man. Because of Wilbur’s influence we wrote my book as a biographical true story in the style of a novel and as a result it has done quite well and is in many prisons around the world. Today And for the last 15 years I have worked in a full time voluntary capacity sharing my story in some of the toughest prisons on the planet, schools and rehabs. Once again I just want to send my condolences to the Smith family and to say how grateful I am to have picked up my first Wilbur Smith book. Yours Sincerely, John Lawson 

It is difficult to put into words the comfort your books gave me or the impact they had on my life from a very young age. From the moment I picked up When the Lion Feeds I was hooked. In reality, I have never traveled outside of South Africa but through your books I have traveled the continent and the world and not only visited countries but ages and cultures long past. At times your writings have left me sad and drained, at others fascinated and enamoured with ancient Egypt and the Epic Taita. Throughout my childhood there was never a birthday or Christmas where a Wilbur Smith novel was not gifted to me and to this day I have that collection. Adulthood brought its usual distractions info work and raising children and it has been quite some time since I gifted myself one of your classics. Thank you, Wilbur, for enriching my life, for igniting my imagination, for educating me in the places and history of our world but mostly for inspiring me to become a writer. Your legacy will live on through your books. You were and will always be, the greatest African author ever. R.I.P. Liane Mulholland

Dear Wilbur, thank you for unknown numbers of hours of bliss of visits too the corners of the world I never would be able to visit myself. Enjoy this latest trip to rest and peace. Aad van roosmalen 

My ex-husband and I are big fans of Wilbur Smith. I was reading the Courtneys of Africa whilst working night shifts at the hospital and was surprised when i found out that i was pregnant for the third time in 1993. My daughter is named after Wilbur’s book. I own all his books. I learnt so much about Africa through him and hope someday I will travel to Africa. Jackie Guy

You took me to places I never dared to go, you brought me sadness and heartache, you introduced me to people who I could never have known, but most all you gave me life stories that I could never live. I traveled with so many of your characters to amazing adventures and lived a fantastic life on your written pages. We are all blessed for knowing you. Robert Hartmann

He captured my heart and imagination from his first book to his last, my favourite was Eagle in the sky. I send love and respect to all his family. Brian McCormick

Wilbur Smith gave me a torrid love affair with South Africa through generations of families, wars, romances and tragedy. I have visited South Africa a few times over the last 20 years and felt the change, the beauty and the tragedy, with some empathy for how the past has interfered with the present. Similarly with the beauty and magnificence of ancient Egypt which struck me by its wisdom and beauty. If you love the earth that you live on and treat it with respect then you will be fulfilled. I hope Wilbur’s family can gain comfort that it was very apparent that he dearly loved and respected the earth that he lived on and gained a huge amount of respect from his writings. Graham Feltham

I was lucky enough to meet Wilbur Smith twice at two book signings in the UK in the 1990s. He was such a nice man to listen and talk to. His books kept me going through some tough times in my life and took me away on far off adventures. Thank you for the thrills, and adventures contained in your stories. You will be missed, but your legacy will be there forever for future readers to discover. RIP Wilbur Smith.  Christopher Hickling

I was a very lonely teenage boy, no friends to speak of and then some kind soul introduced me to Wilbur's books. Suddenly I could live the adventures of the Courtneys and the Ballantynes, I could cross the Veldt with Lothar De La Rey, hear and feel the history of Africa. Thank you, Wilbur. You made a difficult time in my life a lot more bearable.  Alan Frize

RIP Wilbur. You have given me and millions of others hours of pleasure reading your books, they were that good when I actually traveled to Africa it felt as if I had been there before due to your novels. You will be sadly missed by all my thoughts are with your family at this sad time. Allan Sparham

Where do I start? My Dad was in the RAF and I was lucky enough to be born in Kenya, Nairobi. I’ve always been into all things African, read my first Wilbur Smith book at age 13 and have been hooked ever since. Wilbur you have made me very happy, with something to look forward to while awaiting each new book. I’m truly heartbroken..my deepest condolences to Niso and Family. RIP Wilbur. Kerry Oliver

Mr Smith captured my attention and captivated my imagination after reading Elephant Song in 1998 - since then I have collected every book the Master wrote - reading and re-reading them! There has never been another writer his equal, and it is against him that all others are judged-and invariably found wanting. His grasp of socio-economic-political issues is informative whilst his ability to express his writing is truly unique and breath-taking - he has the ability to move both to laughter and tears in one sublime sentence - to have met him at a book signing in Falmouth Cornwall in 2005 remains a cherished moment. I send to Niso Smith, Wilbur's family and all his readers the assurance of my thoughts and prayers - his legacy lives on not only in the treasures he left us, but in the hearts and imaginations of those he captivated and enchanted - he will be missed. Paul Benyon

This amazing man drew me into loving South Africa. It’s amazing scenery and people. Thankful to have visited and more visits to come. Thank you Wilbur for such fabulous stories written with such heart.. You will always be remembered. RIP. Angela Brighton

Thank you from Serbia for hours and hours of pure joy. Because of your book I have traveled through centuries and different civilisations. Start to love old Egypt. You had a gift, through your words you can smell, you can taste, you can experience pain, shame, love, desire. Thank you!!! For me you'll always be a Taita-level genius. Deepest condolences to family and friends. Slađana Lekić

I have the full collection of Wilbur Smith books. Once I start reading I can't put the book down such an exciting read. My favourites are River God and the Courtney series. Such a great writer. Rest in peace, you will be missed. Caroline Edwards

I have read and enjoyed every one of his books and my tribute is to say that he was ' The master of adventure'. With his books I always felt that I was there and part of the story, often staying  awake reading into the early hours. Rest peacefully Wilbur, you have definitely enhanced the lives of many. Tony Bacon

Thank you for sparking my love of reading, I found the book Men of Men whilst browsing through books in my parents library and started reading (I was probably a little young for it at the time being only 12) but I became engrossed in the novel and have not stopped reading since. I can’t wait to start my own girls on your books. Years later my mum told me she was so happy to see me reading your books because my granddad, her dad loved them too.  Thank you. Blaithin Stevenson

Wilbur you made my childhood full of adventure. You engrossed me in stories as an adult and your writing will last for ever as the best adventure stories ever written. Sleep well boet. Heather Becconsall

No other writer of the modern world has taken us, the reader, from the comfort of our home on an adventure that spanned centuries, dynasties, clans and families.  Each saga drew us in like no other and left us wanting to read more and more.  Our time on this earth is limited and you Wilbur Smith was fortunate to have a skill that you could share with millions.  May the lions roar, the spears drum against the shields, the warriors stamp, the eagles soar and the great river Nile carry your memories along. Rest in peace. Tim Goris

Wilbur, your books have been my pride and joy over the years, with the sensation of actually being part of the story.. Extravagant writing indeed, I'm going to miss your books. RIP my legend. Pip Freeman

Blue Horizon got me through I very lonely time in my life. It transported me to Africa. I then read every Courtney book and pretty much every book Wilbur wrote. He changed, and maybe saved, my life. Thank you Sir. Rich Titmuss

I first read Blue Horizon as a young adult and have read it repeatedly throughout my life. I have read most of your novels and each one has taught me something or showed me a different perspective in life. From the thrilling tales of Taita to my favourite character Jim Courtney. Thank you for bringing them to life. Ashleigh Moran

I’ve probably read all of your books with the Courtney novels my personal favorites . Thanks for all the great reads and for expanding my knowledge of South Africa. Rest In Peace. Mark Goldner

One of the finest story tellers of our time. His talent in writing and keeping the reader captivated from start to end is unrivalled with any other modern day author. Sadly Missed. David Kahn

I’m Italian, I was 14 when my dad gave me my first Wilbur Smith book, When the Lion Feeds. It changed my life then, I started to read more and more about Africa, and of course all of Wilbur's books. I haven’t missed one. I live in Africa now, with my children. When I heard the news of Wilbur’s passing the other day I literally cried. RIP and thanks so much for all you did for me. Alessia Turco

I met Wilbur in a London bookstore. I have read every book he has written and had published. Life is not going to be the same without him. Roger Martin

Sympathy to the family. His books brought excitement and pleasure to my life. Lived the through the characters and adventures. He was unique and will be greatly missed by those who loved his novels. Goodbye to a friend. Adrian Deasy

From an introduction by my dad on holiday in Majorca in 1995, I was hooked. You truly knew how to capture and character, place and time period and would take your reader on a journey with you. May your legacy live on and you rest in eternal peace. Victoria Askew

My first novel by Wilbur Smith was read at age 14.  Over the next 40 years I would read all his books and then go back and read them again.  I love to be lost in the covers of his books.  His imagination and writing style put me right in the picture with the characters he was writing about. I have just started his latest book, a return to Egyptian times, but will it be he last? I sincere hope not.  I thoroughly enjoyed the war series and also his autobiography.  It saddens me greatly that i may never read any new material from him.  Luckily, i have a library of his books to enjoy for years to come.  God bless you, Wilbur Smith.  You live on in your books, writings, and movies.  Your forever fan. Judy Baker

Wilbur Smith was an icon, larger than life, beloved by his fans who collected his books in hardbacks and passed his work down through generations, fathers to sons and mothers to daughters. His knowledge of Africa, and his imagination knew no limitations. His work ethic and his powerful, elegant writing style made him known to millions. I cherish the role of working side by side with his wife Niso and the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation to keep the flame of his fictional universe alive for many years to come.'

Kevin Conroy Scott, agent, Tibor Jones

It is with deep sadness that we mourn the death of our beloved author Wilbur Smith whose seemingly inexhaustible creative energy and passion for storytelling will long live on in the hearts and minds of readers everywhere. Wilbur never lost his appetite for writing and remained working every day of his life. He leaves behind him a treasure-trove of novels, as well as completed and yet to be published co-authored books and outlines for future stories. It has been a privilege and an honour to work closely with him on this remarkable publishing legacy and we look forward to sharing them with his millions of fans worldwide in years to come.

Kate Parkin, Managing Director of Adult Trade Publishing for Bonnier Books UK

Author/publisher relationships are strange and varied. Wilbur Smith had many publisher friends and accomplices – editors, booksellers, publicists, agents, translators, and reps.  My relationship with Wilbur combined all or none of these roles depending on one’s perspective. We worked together at Heinemann, Macmillan and (after an interlude when he was published by HarperCollins) now at Bonnier. It is extraordinary that an author as loyal to his publisher as Wilbur should have been moved so frequently. This clearly had more to do with the moving tectonic plates of book publishing than the author’s wishes. He would have wished to stay with his original publisher, Heinemann and their MD, Charles Pick, through thick and thin, but circumstances changed and so did Wilbur’s loyalties.

What never changed though was his loyalty to his readers and to the booksellers and translating publishers around the world.

Every year around the time of the London Book Fair he would hire the private room at the very top of Elena’s L’Etoile in Charlotte Street and host a convivial dinner for thirty or forty of his book trade allies. Publishers from Poland, Italy (where he remains the mega-seller to beat all mega-sellers), Japan, Germany and so on – interspersed between the buyers from W.H. Smith, Waterstones, and in the glory days of book clubs, the head of Book Club Associates where he, along with Catherine Cookson, was the backbone of clubs such as World Books and the Literary Guild. The dinners were bibulous, informal, cosmopolitan, and fun. Just like the man.

He loved parties. He was the host at many, such as his 80th birthday celebration upstairs at The Ivy or the launch of the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize at Stationers’ Hall. He was equally happy to be the guest of honour at posh publishers’ launch parties for him at, for instance, Mosimann’s in Belgravia or less posh but no less fun an impromptu party on the top floor of the Flatiron Building in New York which housed St Martin’s Press. He and his wife, Niso, were equally gracious as host and guest and entered into the spirit of each event.

Outside the parties he was a great diner-out. He loved great restaurants, but I am pretty certain there was nothing he liked better than totally relaxed evenings on the big table at the Chelsea Arts Club where he could observe the members and their guests with a novelist’s eye and not worry about any kind of absurd rules. I remember one evening there when I took a bit of a chance and hosted a dinner for Wilbur and Jeffrey Archer. Authors don’t always want to share the limelight but this, thank goodness, worked out fine. I doubt the Chelsea Arts Club has ever had a table whose combined book sales would have exceeded this one although I suspect some of Booker Prize wannabes there might have turned up their noses a bit.

Like many authors he was totally committed to his readership, and he was lucky enough that this fan base was large enough to generate sales which in turn generated substantial income. But it was always the readership which mattered most. If he got that right the income would follow. Not all authors understand this.

We have lost Wilbur, but his books remain, the legend remains, and his writing will continue to mould books and inspire readers. Niso, I am certain, will ensure that Wilbur will never be forgotten, and I too will do my best to repay some of my debt to one of the most brilliant and decent authors I have been honoured to work with.

Richard Charkin, non-executive director of Bonnier Books UK, as well as founder of Mensch Publishing. Previously he was executive director of Bloomsbury and chief executive of Reed International Books and Macmillan Publishers Limited.