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Wilbur Smith, best-selling author of swashbuckling novels, of 88. died on

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Wilbur Smith, best-selling author of swashbuckling novels, of 88. died on

Wilbur Addison Smith was born on January 9, 1933, in Broken Hill, Northern Rhodesia (now Kabwe, Zambia). He was named after aviation pioneer Wilbur Wright. His father, Herbert, was a rancher who had become a sheet metal worker. His mother, Alfreda, was a painter, who encouraged his reading.

He was diagnosed with cerebral malaria at the age of 18 months. “It probably helped me,” he said later, “because I think you have to be a little crazy to try to earn a living from writing.” As a teenager, he was diagnosed with polio, due to which his right leg was weakened.

When he was 8 years old, his father gave him a .22-caliber Remington rifle. He wrote in his memoir, “On Leopard Rock: A Life of Adventures” (2018), “I shot my first animal shortly after and my father put animal blood in my face.” “Blood was a sign of emerging masculinity. I refused to take a bath for several days after that.”

He attended Michaelhouse, a private boys’ school in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, South Africa. He started a student newspaper there, but he hated the school.

“Michaelhouse was a debilitating experience,” he later recalled. “There was no respect for the students. The teachers were cruel, the princes beat us up, and the big boys bullied us. It was a cycle of violence that perpetuated itself.” He said that reading and writing became his refuge.

“I couldn’t sing or dance or use a paintbrush,” he told Australian website Booktopia in 2012, “but I could weave a beautiful story.”

He said that he originally wanted to write about social conditions in South Africa as a journalist, but that his father considered him a more stable profession. After graduating from Rhodes University in Grahamstown (now Mkhanda), South Africa, with a bachelor of commerce degree in 1954, he worked for the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company for four years, then became involved in his father’s sheet metal manufacturing business. Have become. When that company faltered, it became the government tax assessor.

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