Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith

About the Author

Meet the man behind the “Ladies.”


Favorite Book

What’s your favorite book by Alexander McCall Smith?

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05/12 at 08:26 PM
from Washington, DC

My favorite Alexander McCall Smith seems to be whichever book I am reading at the moment.  I am partial to the #1 Ladies’ Detective Agency books because of the way the author is able to evoke the essence of the African continent in his writing, to include the gracious nature of so many of the people.  My travels in Africa have been limited, but Mr. McCall Smith’s books make me feel as though I have spent more time there than I actually have.

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05/12 at 11:51 PM
from North Carolina

All of the series of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency.

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Internationally acclaimed author and legal expert Alexander McCall Smith has written more than 60 books including the award-winning The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. He talks about his life and travels, the inspiration for his books, and his multi-faceted career.

Download the transcript.

For a captioned version of this interview, go to YouTube.


Alexander McCall Smith has written more than 60 books, including specialist academic titles, short story collections, and a number of immensely popular children’s books. He is best known for his internationally acclaimed The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which rapidly rose to the top of bestseller lists around the world. The film adaptation of the first book in the series premiered on HBO in 2009. He is also the author of The Sunday Philosophy Club series, the German Professor series, and the serial novels that begin with 44 Scotland Street.

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 ten universities, most recently from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

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.

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