About the Foundation

Launched in September 2015, the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation is a charitable organisation dedicated to empowering young writers, the advancement of the adventure writing genre and the promotion of literacy.

Wilbur Smith

Wilbur Smith was born in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), Central Africa, in 1933. He spent his first five years on his father’s ranch before being sent to boarding school in South Africa. It was here that he first engaged fully with his love of the written word and began to learn his craft as a writer – starting the school newspaper (to which he contributed almost all the content).

After matriculating, Wilbur moved on to study at Rhodes University, working on the gold mines and at sea in the long university holidays. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in commerce, he began work as an accountant, but his love of storytelling remained undimmed and it wasn’t long before he was writing short stories in his spare time and beginning to turn his thoughts to longer fiction.

Wilbur became a full-time writer in 1964, after the successful publication of When the Lion Feeds. He has since published 49 books, all meticulously researched on his numerous expeditions worldwide, and including his autobiography, On Leopard Rock. His books are now translated into 32 languages. 

Wilbur Smith passed away at his home in Cape Town on Saturday 13th November, 2021, with his wife Niso by his side.

For more information about Wilbur and his publications, please visit his website: wilbursmithbooks.com

Niso Smith

Founder of the Wilbur & Niso Smith Foundation

Niso Smith was born in Tajikistan, Central Asia. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, Niso and a few members of her family moved to Moscow, where she studied general law at the Moscow Law Academy and graduated in 1995 with a diploma in commercial law.

Working as a clerk for a variety of companies within the confines of the former Soviet Union only served to fuel Niso’s passion for adventure. Her desire to explore the world lead to Niso studying English and visiting London, where she met Wilbur Smith. They married in May 2000.

With Wilbur’s prolific output and Niso’s background in law, it was a natural step for her to take over the organisation of his working life, creating a stressless environment for him to write. Niso accompanied Wilbur around the globe, assisting with his meticulous research.

Niso has been Managing Director of the Wilbur Smith Enterprise since May 2005. She is a self-confessed compulsive traveller and voracious reader, loves alpine skiing, fly fishing, bungee jumping, gourmet cooking and has a sartorial eye for men’s fashion.