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He went to Michaelhouse “an academy for young gentlemen”, in Natal (KwaZulu-Natal), South Africa, where he excelled only in English Obituary by Mike Ripley At the age of eight, Wilbur Smith was given his grandfather’s Remington rifle, which had 122 notches on the butt. He shot his first lion when he was 14. Such a boy seemed destined to become a hunter, but it was on paper that Smith realised his dreams of adventure – and millions shared them through his 49 novels over half a century. In recent years Smith, who has died aged 88, would say proudly: “I don’t write literature, I write stories,” and added that he always saw himself as the hero in his books and always fell in love with his female characters.