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Wilbur's
Notebook

Meticulous research is one of the trademarks of Wilbur’s books. Here we’ve assembled some of his research work for the first time - allowing readers to understand the history that inspired the adventures.

Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros

One of the most endangered animals in the world, fierce in both size and strength, the Rhinoceros is a beautiful part of the African landscape.

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The Capes of Africa

The Capes of Africa

The Capes of Africa provided critical landmarks for navigating at sea, and were key landmarks on the journey of the Courtneys

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Lion

Lion

Lions are ever present throughout the novels of Wilbur Smith. The ‘King of the Beasts’ has from ancient times been used in language and culture as a symbol of nobility, strength, power and courage.

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Ethiopia and Prester John

Ethiopia and Prester John

Historically known as Abyssinia, Ethiopia is Africa's oldest independent country. In the 12th century, a letter sent to a number of European capitals from an Ethiopian emperor indicated that the kingdom of Prester John was in Ethiopia . . .

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Diamonds

Diamonds

Coming from the Greek word for invincible, Adamas, the diamond is the purest and most concentrated form of carbon and the hardest material on Earth. Since the 15th century, when the art of cutting diamonds to reflect their full beauty was developed, the diamond has been a symbol for love and commitment.

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Pietermaritzburg

Pietermaritzburg

Pietermaritzburg, the capital of KwaZulu Natal, lies some 50 miles north east of Durban in the valley of the Msunduzi river. It was founded in 1838 by Voortrekkers led by Andries Pretorius and named in honour of two former Voortrekker leaders, Piet Retief and Gerrit Maritz, who had been killed by the Zulus at Weenen.

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Boer Wars

Boer Wars

In the 1850s the Boers escaping from British rule in the Cape Colony established two independent Boer republics in the north of South Africa, the Transvaal and the Orange Free State. This was done with the consent of the British, the dominant power in South Africa, who were happy to let the troublesome Boers have what were vast tracts of apparently barren land.

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Apartheid

Apartheid

The National Party was dominated by Afrikaners, descendants of the Dutch settlers who had colonised Southern Africa in the 17th and 18th centuries. These settlers pursued an informal system of racial segregation, which continued to be tolerated, if not encouraged, when the colonies of Southern Africa became part of the British Empire.

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Siege of Khartoum

Siege of Khartoum

In 1882 the British intervened in Egypt in support of the Khedive of Egypt, who was facing insurrection from his own army. As a result Egypt, became a de facto British protectorate, although technically it was a province of the Ottoman Empire.

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Cape Agulhas

Cape Agulhas

In 1667 the Courtneys were patrolling off Cape Agulhas, at the southernmost tip of the African continent, waiting to waylay (Dutch East India) Company galleons as they rounded the Cape to call in at Table Bay.

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Witwatersrand

Witwatersrand

The Witwatersrand, also known as the 'Rand', is the richest gold reef in the world and gives its name to the South African currency.

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Kimberley

Kimberley

As Johannesburg would later be built on gold, so Kimberley, capital of the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, was built on diamonds.

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Skeleton Coast

Skeleton Coast

The Skeleton Coast is the name given to the northernmost strip of the Namib Desert's Atlantic coast, running for some 400 miles from the Kunene river, which forms Namibia's border with Angola in the north, to the Swakop river in the south. The San, or Bushmen, of Namibia know the area as 'The Land God Made In Anger'.

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Anglo-Dutch Wars

Anglo-Dutch Wars

There were four naval conflicts between England and the Dutch Republic in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was a time when the European nations were fighting each other to establish colonies and trading posts all over the world and the Anglo-Dutch Wars were all about naval supremacy, control of the High Seas and the increasingly valuable trade routes.

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