Wilbur Smith is a South African bestseller novelist born on 9th January 1933. His main area of specialization is the historical fiction genre mainly from the viewpoint of the whites and black families. He was an accountant by training until he got a film contract with his first published novel When the Lion Feeds. The contract motivated him to become a full-time writer and later wrote three long Chronicles based on the life in South Africa. The chronicles later became best-selling and influenced his popularity.
Order of Ancient Egypt Series
|2||The Seventh Scroll||1995|
Order of Ballantyne Series
|1||A Falcon Flies||1980|
|2||Men of Men||1981|
|3||The Angels Weep||1982|
|4||The Leopard Hunts in Darkness||1984|
|5||The Triumph of the Sun||1992|
Order of Courtney Series
|1||When the Lion Feeds||1964|
|2||The Sound of Thunder||1966|
|3||A Sparrow Falls||1977|
|4||The Burning Shore||1985|
|5||Power of the Sword||1986|
|7||A Time to Die||1989|
|9||Birds of Prey||1997|
|12||The Triumph of the Sun||2005|
Order of Hector Cross Series
Order of Wilbur Smith Standalone Novels
|1||Train from Katanga||1965|
|2||The Dark of the Sun||1965|
|3||Shout at the Devil||1968|
|5||The Diamond Hunters||1971|
|7||The Eye of the Tiger||1974|
|9||Hungry as the Sea||1978|
|11||Eagle in the Sky||1980|
Wilbur Smith was born in Northern Rhodesia (now known as Zambia) on January 9th 1933. He was brought up in humble surroundings, as his father was a manual labourer who specialised in metalwork, who then ended up buying a cattle ranch. As a child, Smith lived an outdoorsy style of live, playing in the bush, going hunting and hiking with friends, and learning how to trap small animals. It was during this time that Smith’s love for literature also developed, as his mother would read to him at night-time and would encourage him to read as a hobby. Although his father tried to stifle his passion for books, he would not be dissuaded, and his passion was nurtured further at boarding school as his English teacher encouraged him not only with his reading, but also with his writing, which Smith had started during his schooling.
After finishing school, Smith wanted to pursue a career in journalism, but, again, his father tried to dissuade him, as he had with his love for reading, and this time he was more successful, making his son go into a career of accountancy. However, that was not enough for Smith, and he found himself drawn back into the world of fiction, first starting with stories for magazines, before finally graduating to full-length novels, the first of which being When the Lion Feeds, which was published in 1964, at which time Smith was still working as an accountant. This would also serve as the beginning of Smith’s much-loved Courtney series of books. As well as commercial success, When the Lion Feeds was also picked up for adaptation into a movie, although it never did make it to the big screen.
Buoyed by the success of When the Lion Feeds, Wilbur Smith decided to quit his work in accountancy and take up writing full-time. He continued his Courtney series of books, but also wrote several standalone pieces of fiction during this time, too, with his first standalone novel being The Dark Side of the Sun, which was published in 1965. In fact, after writing the second book in the Courtney series, The Sound of Thunder, in 1966, Smith would not return to the series for over a decade, with the publication of A Sparrow Falls in 1977. Then, after two more standalone novels, Smith created a new series of books, the Ballantyne series, which began with the 1980 publication of A Falcon Flies. The Ballantyne series would take up much of Smith’s time, with his next three books also being in that series. However, the Courtney series would again be picked up by Smith, with The Burning Shore in 1985. Again, the Courtney series would be Wilbur Smith’s main focus, until he set out on a new series of books set in Ancient Egypt, the first of which was called River God and was published in 1993.
Wilbur Smith continued to write both the Courtney series and the Egyptian series, but, in 2011, also added a new string to his bow with the Hector Cross series of books, which was set in modern times. Smith started the Hector Cross series with the novel Those in Peril, which introduces Hector Cross as the head of a security company protected with keeping the good, great and wealthy safe and sound.
The critical and commercial success of Wilbur Smith’s work has also seen several of his books adapted for both cinematic release and also for television, with the Dark Side of the Sun being made into the film The Mercenaries in 1968, Shout at the Devil adapted into a movie in 1976, amongst others. Smith has stated that while at first he had no control over the adaptation of his books, he now has it written into the contract that unless they use his screenplay, the adaptation will not happen.
Wilbur Smith is best known for his first novel When the Lion Feeds which saw him obtain a film contract. A book about the struggles between two twin brothers Sean (the dominant brother) and Garrick (the reckless and manipulative brother) who grow up as bitter rivals. However, they grow up as hero and legend respectively.
WILBUR SMITH BOOKS INTO MOVIES:
One of the Wilbur Smith novels adapted into a film is the Diamond Hunters. For some years, Smith tried to get the novel adapted into a movie without success until it was later adapted into a film, The Kingfisher Caper in 1975 and into a TV mini-series The Diamond Hunters in 2001.
The Seventh Scroll was adapted into a TV miniseries in 1999 which was produced by Lux International Film Company.
Mountain Of Diamonds was adapted into the big screen in 1991. Other novels by the same author which were incorporated into the film industry are; Shout at the Devil (1976), The Kingfisher Caper (1975), The Last Lion (1972), Gold (1974), Wild Justice (1994) and The Mercenaries (1968).
BEST WILBUR SMITH BOOKS:
These are the two best books written by Wilbur Smith and they are;
When the Lion Feeds: This novel is part of the Courtney series. When a lion feeds, something always dies. The book features two twin brothers Sean (the dominant brother and father’s favorite) and Garrick. Sean is the lion, a hero of this thrilling adventure and drama of the great men who took control over South Africa during the last quarter of the 19th century.
The twin brothers are raised on their father’s farm in Natal. The first section of the novel deals with Sean early life and his dreams of becoming a prominent farmer and great fighter just like his father. Sean is easily manipulated, and Garrick takes advantage of this until when war changes everything.
The Zulu wars interrupt their harsh life of cattle farming. The brothers encounter the wars for the first time. However, they are determined to fight for what belongs to them, the cattle.
Wilbur Smith names the second part of the book as the ‘Witwatersrand.’ In this section, Smith details the success story of Sean with Duff Chorleywood and Candy in Johannesburg. The pair trio live a life of luxuries characterized with heavy drinking, luxurious houses as Smith vividly explains in the novel. However, this is short-lived as their rival Hradsky sets a trap for them. This sends both Sean and Duff to the wilderness away from Johannesburg to seek their fortune.
Sean gets married and is blessed with a son. However, this is again short-lived and once again he finds himself alone again after losing his friend Duff and his wife.
The book brings out fascinating action scenes in war and the initial days of the gold rush and adventures deep in the heart of African wilderness. The whole life story of Sean is continued in A Sparrow Falls and The Sound of Thunder.
Monsoon: it is the beginning of the eighteenth century, and the great East India Trading Company suffers immense losses due to pirates on the seas. Master Mariner Sir Hal who has been away from service for four years is preparing for his latest and most risky voyage- which is considered a death or glory mission all for the glory of the Empire and the Crown.
With his three sons; Dorian, Tom, and Guy they must protect the East India Trading Company shipments at all cost from the looting pirates. Wilbur Smith clearly brings out his storytelling “superpowers” by incorporating anger, peace, and passion and war themes in this family tossed in the sea sailing from England towards Africa and Arabia. Monsoon is a masterpiece of Wilbur Smith works exhilarating adventure pitting man against the sea, brother against brother and good against evil.
Wilbur Smith FAQs
Q: What nationality is Wilbur Smith?
A: The author Wilbur Smith was born in Northern Rhodesia, but is now a citizen of South Africa.
Q: What is the title of Wilbur Smith’s first book?
A: Wilbur Smith’s first published novel was When the Lion Feeds, which was published in 1964.