Born in Zambia, Wilbur Smith spent his early years playing with friends on his father's ranch and in the African bush, armed with slingshots, building fires and tracking small animals. It are these experiences which have inspired the dozens of novels he has written. It was at boarding school in South Africa where Wilbur received his first literary accolade – Best English Essay. His passion for writing continued to grow throughout his studies until, at the age of 24, he decided to become a journalist. Wilbur's father, however, didn't agree and he subsequently became a chartered accountant - but his love of fiction never went away.
He persevered with his writing and sold his first story for £70. A few years later his debut novel, When the Lion Feeds, was published and it was his publisher, Charles Pick, who advised him to write about the "things you know well". Since then, Wilbur has written only about Africa. When Wilbur met Danielle Thomas he was already twice divorced and wondering if he'd ever find true love. They wed in 1971 and were happily married for 28 years before her untimely death. Today, Wilbur is married to Mokhiniso Rakhimova and has written more than 30 novels and sold around 100 million copies.
Ex-slave. Philosopher. Chosen one. Taita has risen from nothing to become the most trusted man at the Pharaoh's side. Only he can plot a mission that will return Egypt to its former glory. Only he can muster the force that can break the back of Egypt's greatest enemy. On the banks of the Nile, a hero will rise. Across the lush plains of Egypt, Taita, a freed eunuch slave, wears his authority lightly. Not only is he the close advisor to the Pharaoh, but he is guardian to Pharaoh Tamose's two teenage sisters, the young beauties Tehuti and Bekatha. But the kingdom is not at peace. They have been fighting Southern Egypt's constant and historic enemy, the Hyksos people in the north, since time began. To finally crush them, Pharaoh must turn to his most trusted friend. Taita, philosopher, poet and expert strategist, has a plan that will see Egypt destroy the Hyksos army and form a coveted alliance with Crete in one move. This plan will take him, his expedition commander Zaras, and their mighty warriors on a perilous journey up the Nile, through Arabia to the magical city of Babylon, then across the open seas to Crete. The many dangers will cost lives and time, and they will meet battle and betrayal head on. But Taita must not forget his two charges, the spirited young princesses, whose attraction to the very warriors who lead the fight threatens Taita's meticulous plan and the future of Egypt itself.
Interview with Wilbur Smith
Speaking with Giles Foden, Wilbur Smith talks about how his childhood has shaped his literary career. His father's hatred of books meant he would hide in the out-house to read - it also meant Wilbur's first job was working for the income tax department. In retrospect, he sees that journalism and creative writing require very different techniques, so by preventing him from becoming a journalist, his father was actually doing him a favour. It was during his time in the income tax office that Wilbur wrote his first book. Wilbur Smith also discusses the often harsh reality of life at boarding school and how his passion for writing has never ceased.