Wilbur Smith rose from humble origins to become a multimillionaire and global number one best-selling novelist. His father and his educational institutions did not value literary achievement in his early years. He accepted his father’s judgment and hunkered down into the ordinary and typical life he was expected to lead, despite his great desire to write and a tremendous passion for reading. He spent his early life in a dreary dead end tax career and was divorced from a marriage that had produced two children, both of whom he was now separated from. Faced with failure in a life he didn’t desire in the first place, he decided to try his hand at something he truly enjoyed. He had a rocky start with his debut novel, which was rejected by every publisher he approached. He focused all of his efforts on developing something distinct and intriguing, and eventually came up with ‘When the Lion Feeds,’ in which he wrote about topics that were more familiar to him. Wilbur Smith became an instant celebrity as soon as the book arrived at the publisher’s hands. His manuscript earned him enough money to enable him to pursue his dream of being a full-time author. He has published almost 30 popular novels since his beginnings.
Childhood and Adolescence
He was born in Kabwe, Zambia, on January 9, 1933. He contracted cerebral malaria as a child and was told by physicians that if he survived at all, he would be doomed to a life of brain damage. He miraculously recovered from his sickness and went on to live an exceptional life.
His father had a cattle ranch, and his mother loved to read. While his father disapproved of his desire to write, she encouraged him to pursue his passion for reading. He then went to Natal, South Africa’s ‘Cordwalles Preparatory School.’
He went to ‘St. Michael’s Academy for Young Gentlemen’ for secondary school. The entire school exhibited little interest in literary activities throughout his stay here. He did start a school newspaper, for which he wrote all of the articles (other than the sports pages). His column was so well-received that it was distributed as far as St. Annes and Wykham Collegiate.
He recognized his ultimate dream was to become a journalist after graduating from ‘Rhodes University’ in Grahamstown, South Africa. His father was opposed to the idea and advised his son to acquire a legitimate career. Smith took his father’s advice and became a chartered accountant before marrying and starting a family.
After his first marriage ended in divorce, he chose to return to his first love, literature. His first successful work, ‘When the Lion Feeds,’ was published in 1964.
His phenomenal success with his first actual work allowed him to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. Since then, he has written one book every 1-2 years on average.
He released ‘The Dark of the Sun,”The Sound of Thunder,’ and ‘Shout at the Devil’ for the rest of the 1960s. His work ‘Dark of the Sun’ was made into a film titled ‘The Mercenaries,’ which was released in 1968.
He published nine books in ten years during the 1970s. His ninth novel, ‘Sparrow Falls,’ was a huge success. His writings ‘Gold Mine’ and ‘The Diamond Hunters’ were made into films ‘Gold’ and ‘The Kingfisher Caper’ respectively during the decade.
He was able to write eight more successful novels during the 1980s decade. ‘Men of Men,’ ‘Power of the Sword,’ and ‘Rage’ are some of the most well-known titles.
Six more books were added to his library of published works throughout the 1990s. His work was adapted into a television movie and two television miniseries in the same year.
From 2000 through 2015, he published eight books, including “Warlock,” “Blue Horizon,” “The Triumph of the Sun,” “The Quest,” “Assegai,” “Those in Peril,” “Vicious Circle,” and “Desert God.”
‘The Diamond Hunters,’ a TV miniseries based on his screenplay, premiered in 2001.
Major Projects of Wilbur A. Smith
His representative in London forwarded his novel ‘When the Lion Feeds’ to the publishing house’s Managing Director in 1964. When the publishing house received the work, they promptly paid him a 2,000-pound advance, which was unheard of at the time. It was also decided that he would get a ten percent royalty. These terms allowed him to survive for the next five years solely on this book. The book was later adapted into a film.
Achievements & Awards
While still in boarding school, he received his first award, the form prize for best English Essay. He’d become a young protégé of an English master, and this honor showed him that he could make a living as a writer.
He received the Inaugural Sport Shooting Ambassador Award in 2002. The World Forum on the Future of Sport Shooting Activities presented it to him.
Personal History and Legacy
His first two marriages ended in divorce, leaving him with three children. Kawrence and Shaun were his sons, and Christian was his daughter.
In 1971, he married Danielle Thomas, one of his most ardent followers. They were married for 28 years till she died of cancer that took her life. Dieter Schmidt, his third wife’s kid from a prior relationship, was also adopted by him.
He married MokhinisoRakhimova in the year 2000. Despite the fact that she is 39 years his junior, the couple has been successful and is currently living happily together.
This prolific author has sold over 120 million books worldwide and has been named the number one best seller in the world. Nine films, mini-series, and screenplays have been based on his writings.
Estimated Net Worth
The estimated Net Worth of Wilbur Smith is between $70 million to $80 Million USD. He earned this amount of money by selling many popular books.
During a 2011 interview, a reporter inquired as to whether Wilbur was still writing. ‘I’m still breathing, aren’t I?’ he replied.