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It seems likely that there will be more Wilbur Smith novels to appear on the shelves of airport bookshops the world over, despite his death in Cape Town on 13 November at the age of 88.

Kate Parkin, MD of Adult Trade Publishing at Bonnier Books UK , Smith’s most recent UK publisher, commented: “It is with deep sadness that we mourn the death of our beloved author Wilbur Smith whose seemingly inexhaustible creative energy and passion for storytelling will long live on in the hearts and minds of readers everywhere. Wilbur never lost his appetite for writing and remained working every day of his life.  He leaves behind him a treasure-trove of novels, as well as completed and yet to be published co-authored books and outlines for future stories. It has been a privilege and an honour to work closely with him on this remarkable publishing legacy and we look forward to sharing them with his millions of fans worldwide in years to come.”

The master of a particular kind of adventure story, usually set in Africa, Smith wrote some 49 novels and was making headlines in publishing circles well into his seventies.  For 45 years he was published by Pan Macmillan, but in December 2012 he moved to HarperCollins in a publishing deal said to be worth £15m that also included co-authored novels, the first of which, Golden Lion, was published in 2015.  A further move followed in 2017 when Wilbur Smith joined Bonnier Books UK.

A passionate advocate of adventure fiction, Wilbur endeavoured to share his love for the genre through the global charitable foundation he and his wife, Niso, established in 2015.  This week the Wilbur and Niso Foundation, which is dedicated to growing the readership for adventure fiction and promoting reading and writing for younger generations across the world, said its work would continue, led by Niso Smith.  Wilbur and Niso also recently started a vertically integrated media company, Leopard Rock Studios Ltd, to produce film/tv and other projects by reimagining Wilbur’s classic IP for a new generation of fans.

Kevin Conroy Scott, literary agent for Wilbur Smith for the past 11 years, said:  “Wilbur Smith was an icon, larger than life, beloved by his fans who collected his books in hardbacks and passed his work down through generations, fathers to sons and mothers to daughters.

“His knowledge of Africa, and his imagination knew no limitations.  His work ethic and his powerful, elegant writing style made him known to millions. I cherish the role of working side by side with his wife Niso and the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation to keep the flame of his fictional universe alive for many years to come.”