Wilbur Smith is a literary phenomenon: a truly global bestseller, he has published 34 novels into 26 languages with sales in excess of 122 million copies. As part of the celebrations to honour an incredible 50 YEARS IN PUBLISHING, Wilbur Smith: The Early Years Collection, a beautifully presented, special edition box set (Price: £19.99) has been released this Summer. 


The Collection includes:

  • A unique DVD featuring a series of exclusive personal and frank interviews with Wilbur Smith talking about his childhood and formative years in Northern Rhodesia; his early writing experiences and his career with additional footage featuring invaluable writing tips for aspiring authors.
  • A 6-CD audio-book set of Wilbur Smith’s first novel, When the Lion Feeds (published 1964) read by celebrated actor, Tim Piggot-Smith.
  • A special edition copy of Wilbur Smith’s first published work On Flinders’ Face, a short story not seen for 50 years.
  • Never before seen family photographs from Wilbur Smith’s personal photo album.

A personal and intimate collection for all Wilbur Smith fans – and for those still to discover him – this unique present also features never before seen family photographs of Wilbur’s childhood; a childhood full of rich experience and adventure – the perfect grounding for a master storyteller.

Wilbur Smith

For those Wilbur Smith super fans and for those who would love to be introduced in his literacy world here are some interesting facts:

Several of Wilbur’s books have also been made into films, which have starred Roger Moore, Roy Scheider and Susannah York.

2014 sees Wilbur celebrate an incredible 50 years as a published author.

Wilbur was born in Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia, on the 9th January 1933. As a baby, he fell ill with cerebral malaria for 10 days, but despite doctors predicting he wouldn’t survive, or would suffer brain damage, Wilbur made a full recovery.

Wilbur’s father was a man of action, and his mother was artistic with a passion for books – the perfect grounding for an adventure writer. Despite his father’s disapproval, Wilbur’s mother read him stories every night and it was this, alongside the stories of his grandfather, Courtney James Smith, who in his youth had been a hunter and warrior, commanding a Maxim gun team during the Zulu Wars, that inspired his love of adventure stories. Wilbur would later give the name Courtney to the family in his first novel, When the Lion Feeds.

Wilbur did not enjoy school, though in junior school, his English teacher took a shine to him, discussing books with him, and encouraging his writing. In senior school, he started a school newspaper, writing the entire editorial content (except sports) and a weekly satirical column, which became famous, not only at his school, but in neighbouring schools.

On his father’s advice to “get a real job”, Wilbur started working as a tax accountant with the Inland Revenue Service, despite his ambitions to be a journalist. It was here that he sold his first short story to “Argosy” for £70 – twice a month’s salary. Emboldened by this success, he wrote his first novel The Gods First Make Mad, which he describes as “an atrocious title for a worse book.” It was rejected by every agent he sent it to, so he returned to work as an accountant.

His first published novel, When the Lion Feeds, came out in 1964, and was the first in the Courtney series, which spans the fortunes and misfortunes of one family over three centuries. It was banned in South Africa on grounds of obscenity and blasphemy.

In 2012, it was announced that Wilbur would be leaving his publisher of 45 years Pan Macmillan to move to HarperCollins. As part of the agreement, some of the books will be written with co-authors.

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