Alexander McCall Smith Bio

Best-selling Author of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series

Alexander McCall Smith has written more than 100 books, including specialist academic titles, short story collections, and a number of immensely popular children's books. Referred to as our new P.G. Wodehouse, he is best known for his internationally acclaimed No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which rapidly rose to the top of the bestseller lists throughout the world. The fifth novel in the series, The Full Cupboard of Life, received the Saga Award for Wit. The most recent book in this series, The Double Comfort of Safari Club was published April 2010.The twelfth book in the series,The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party will be coming out in March of 2011. The series has now been translated into 45 languages and has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. The first episode of a film adaptation, directed by Anthony Minghella, and produced by the Weinstein Company, premiered on HBO in March 2009. Another series, beginning with The Sunday Philosophy Club, about an intriguing woman named Isabel Dalhousie, appeared in 2004 and immediately leapt onto national bestseller lists, as did sequels, Friends, Lovers, ChocolateThe Right Attitude to RainThe Careful Use of ComplimentsThe Comfort of a Muddy Saturday, and The Lost Art of Gratitude. The seventh Dalhousie novel is The Charming Quirks of Others (Fall 2010). McCall Smith’s serial novel, 44 Scotland Street, was published in book form to great acclaim in 2005, followed by Espresso Talesand Love Over Scotland, and then by The World According to Bertie (Fall 2008) and also The Unbearable Lightness of Scones (Fall 2009). A solo novel, La’s Orchestra Saves the World, came out in December 2009. Corduroy Mansions, a serial novel depicting the lives of the inhabitants of a large Pimlico house, was published and podcasted by the UK’s Daily Telegraph, and is now published as a book (July 2010). The next book in the Corduroy Mansion series, The Dog Who Came in from the Cold will be published in June of 2011.

In addition, McCall Smith’s delightful German professor series, Portuguese Irregular VerbsThe Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances were published in the US in January 2005. He is also the author of several children’s books, including the Akimbo series, about a boy in Africa,the Harriet Bean series, the Max & Maddy series and The Perfect Hamburger and other Delicious Stories. Akimbo and the Baboons, the fifth book in the Akimbo series, was published in November 2008. Pantheon has published Alexander McCall Smith’s collection of African folktales,The Girl Who Married a Lion. McCall Smith is also the author of Dream Angus: The Celtic God of Dreams, a contemporary reworking of a beloved Celtic myth and Heavenly Date and Other Flirtations, a collection of short stories examining the mysteries of dating and courtship.

McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and was educated there and in Scotland. He became a law professor in Scotland, and it was in this role that he first returned to Africa to work in Botswana, where he helped to set up a new law school at the University of Botswana. For many years he was Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, and has been a visiting professor at a number of other universities elsewhere, including ones in Italy and the United States. He is now a Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh.

In addition to his university work, McCall Smith was for four years the vice-chairman of the Human Genetics Commission of the UK, the chairman of the British Medical Journal Ethics Committee, and a member of the International Bioethics Commission of UNESCO. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Crime Writers’ Association’s Dagger in the Library Award, the United Kingdom’s Author of The Year Award in 2004 and Sweden’s Martin Beck Award. In 2007 he was made a CBE for his services to literature in the Queen’s New Year’s Honor List. He holds honorary doctorates from 12 universities, most recently from Southern Methodist University, Dallas. In 2010 McCall Smith was awarded the Presidential Order of Merit by the President of Botswana.

Alexander McCall Smith currently lives in Edinburgh with his wife Elizabeth (an Edinburgh doctor). His hobbies include playing wind instruments, and he is the co-founder of an amateur orchestra called "The Really Terrible Orchestra" in which he plays the bassoon and his wife plays the horn.