Best-selling author Wilbur Smith has died at the age of 88, his office announced.
The novelist died “unexpectedly” at his home in Cape Town, South Africa, on Saturday afternoon after spending the morning reading and writing with his wife Niso by his side, a note read.
Hailed as the “undisputed and inimitable master of adventure writing,” Smith’s 49 published books have sold more than 140 million copies worldwide.
His first novel, When The Lion Feeds, was an instant hit when it was published in 1964 and each of his subsequent novels made it to the bestseller charts.
When The Lions Feed was the first novel in Smith’s long-running Courtney series that follows the adventures of the Courtney family through critical periods in history, from the dawn of colonial Africa and the American Civil War to the apartheid era in South Africa.
His other bestsellers include The River God and The Triumph of the Sun.
Born in Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, in 1933, Smith was a survivor and big game hunter, managed his own game reserve and owned a tropical island in the Seychelles.
He was married four times, meeting his fourth wife Mokhiniso Rakhimova, known as Niso, at a WH Smith store in London in 2000.
Smith had three sons, Shaun and Lawrence and daughter Christian, but had been estranged from them, telling the Sunday Times in 2015: “They were important to me at some point, don’t get me wrong – very important – but not now.
“It’s sadder for them than for me, because they don’t get any more money.”