Tributes have poured in after it was announced that author Wilbur Smith has died aged 88.

The international best-selling author passed away on Saturday afternoon at his home in Cape Town, with his wife, Niso, by his side, a statement published on the Wilbur Smith Books website said.

It said: “Global bestselling author Wilbur Smith died unexpectedly this afternoon at his Cape Town home after a morning of reading and writing with his wife Niso by his side.”

“The undisputed and inimitable master of adventure writing, Wilbur Smith’s novels have gripped readers for over half a century, selling over 140 million copies worldwide in more than thirty languages.”

Smith - who shot to fame following the publication of his debut novel When the Lion Feeds in 1964 - had 49 published books which have sold more than 140 million copies worldwide.

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Other bestsellers he published included The River God and The Triumph of the Sun and he was known for writing about Africa.

Reacting to the news of his death, people took to social media to express their shock and sadness.

His literary agent Kevin Conroy Scott described him as “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,” The Independent reports.

He will be missed.

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