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Acclaimed and Beloved Scottish Author

BIOGRAPHY

Alexander McCall Smith has written and contributed to more than 100 books, including academic titles, short story collections, and several immensely popular children's books. He is best known for his internationally acclaimed bestselling series No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency,’ which has been translated into 46 languages. The series was adapted by HBO in 2009, and by BBC Radio 4 from 2004 – 2019. The most recent book in the series, From a Far and Lovely Country, received a starred review from Booklist which called it “A total delight.” The 25th book will be The Great Hippopotamus Hotel (Pantheon, October 15, 2024).

McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie series began with The Sunday Philosophy Club and immediately leapt onto national bestseller lists, as did its sequels, the most recent being Sweet Remnants of Summer, the next book will be The Conditions of Unconditional Love (Pantheon, July 16, 2024). McCall Smith’s serial novel, 44 Scotland Street, was published in book form to great acclaim; the most recent book in the series is The Enigma of Garlic, the next will be The Stellar Debut of Galactica Macfee (Vintage, May 14, 2024). Corduroy Mansions, a series depicting the lives of the inhabitants of a large Pimlico house, was printed and podcast by the UK’s Daily Telegraph, and is now published in three volumes. His Professor Dr. von Igelfeld series began with Portuguese Irregular Verbs, and continued with a fifth book, Your Inner Hedgehog. The Paul Stuart series began with My Italian Bulldozer and continues with The Second Worst Restaurant in France. The Detective Varg series set in Sweden started with The Department of Sensitive Crimes, and the fourth book is The Discreet Charm of the Big Bad Wolf. His new series about Scotland’s most low-key dating agency starts with The Perfect Passion Company (Vintage, February 13, 2024).

McCall Smith has written several collections of short stories including Chance Developments, Pianos and Flowers: Brief Encounters of the Romantic Kind, Tiny Tales: Stories of Romance, Ambition, Kindness, and Happiness, and most recently, The Private Life of Spies and The Exquisite Art of Getting Even: Stories.His book of poetry is In A Time of Distance. He has written several solo novels, La’s Orchestra Saves the World, Trains and Lovers, The Forever Girl, Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party, The Good Pilot Peter Woodhouse, The Pavilion in the Clouds, and a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma. He has also written a collection of African folktales, The Girl Who Married a Lion. His non-fiction book about W. H. Auden is titled What W. H. Auden Can Do for You. He has also written children’s books, including the series The School Ship Tobermory, a mystery series about Precious Ramotswe as a young girl, the Akimbo series, the Harriet Bean series, the Max & Maddy series, and The Perfect Hamburger and other Delicious Stories. In addition to his novels, he has written a libretto for the opera The Okavango Macbeth – the tragedy as played out by a troop of baboons. In 2019 he released an album celebrating the presence of the sea in Scottish life, past and present titled These Are The Hands, with words by Alexander McCall Smith and music composed by James Ross.

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 set up a 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 several other universities elsewhere, including 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, the Saga Award for Wit, Sweden’s Martin Beck Award, and the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction 2015 (for Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party). In 2007 he received 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. He has been awarded the Presidential Order of Merit by the President of Botswana, the Edinburgh Award and the Saltire Society Lifetime Achievement Award 2022. He has also been honoured as a Knight Bachelor in His Majesty The King’s New Year Honours list, 2024. The award recognises his service to literature, academia and charity.

Alexander McCall Smith currently lives in Edinburgh with his wife Elizabeth (an Edinburgh doctor). His hobbies include sailing and 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.

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