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Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith

Born: 1948, Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe)
First Book: The White Hippo (Hamish Hamilton, 1980)
Awards: The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency received two 1998 Booker Prize for Fiction Judges’ Special Recommendations and was voted as one of The Times Literary Supplement’s International Books of the Year and the Millennium. The Full Cupboard of Life was winner of the 2003 Saga Wit Award. In 2004 McCall Smith was named 'Author of the Year’ by both the Booksellers Association and British Book Awards, and in 2007 he was awarded the CBE for services to literature. In 2008, Blue Shoes of Happiness won the Theakston Old Peculiar Award. And in 2010, he received he Presidential Order of Merit from the President of Botswana. 

Most widely celebrated as the creator of the Botswanan sleuth, Precious Ramotswe of The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series,  Alexander McCall Smith the bestselling author of over sixty books ranging from reference works such as The Forensic Aspects of Sleep to his immensely popular children’s titles, short-story collections and novels.


Born in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in 1948, McCall Smith was educated in Bulawayo before moving to Scotland to study law at the University of Edinburgh. He returned to Africa to set up and teach at the law faculty at the University of Botswana before returning to Edinburgh.

He was, until 2005, a professor of medical law at the University of Edinburgh, but gave up the position to concentrate on his writing and now writes full time.

 The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series  now numbers a total of fourteen books (The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Tears of the Giraffe, Morality for Beautiful Girls, The Kalahari Typing School for Men, The Full Cupboard of Life, In the Company of Cheerful Ladies, Blue Shoes and Happiness, The Good Husband of Zebra Drive, The Miracle at Speedy Motors, The Double Comfort Safari Club and The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon and soon to come, The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe). The series has sold over 20 million copies in the English language worldwide, has been translated into forty-six languages and has been turned into a hugely successful television series on both sides of the Atlantic. His has also penned a series of books about Precious Ramotswe as a child: Precious and the Monkeys, Precious and the Mystery of Meerkat HIll and Precious and the Mystery of the Missing Lion.

Alexander has also written the Introduction to Mma Ramotswe’s Cookbook, a sumptuous journey through the food of Botswana in the company of Precious Ramotswe, written by Stuart Brown and available from Polygon.

His
44 Scotland Street series
which appears in daily episodes in the Scotsman newspaper and is published in full by Polygon, has also been enjoying considerable success. The light-hearted series concerns itself with the comings and goings of an eclectic group of Edinburgh residents and has received wide critical acclaim. There are nine books to date: 44 Scotland Street, Espresso Tales, Love Over Scotland, The World According to Bertie, The Unbearable Lightness of Scones , The Importance of Being Seven,  Bertie Plays the Blues - and Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers.
 

The Sunday Philosophy Club series features the half-American, half-Scottish Isabel Dalhousie, editor of The Review of Applied Ethics and amateur Edinburgh sleuth. Much like Precious Ramotswe, she often entangles herself in problems that are none of her business – including murder, love and sedition – and which put to good use her philosophical brilliance. The series is made up of The Sunday Philosophy Club; Friends, Lovers, Chocolate; The Right Attitude to Rain; The Careful Use of Compliments, The Comfort of Saturdays and The Forgotten Affairs of Youth.

In The von Igelfeld series, McCall Smith introduces the unnaturally tall Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld of the Institute of Romance Philology, who is engaged in a comical, never-ending mission to win the respect that he is convinced he is due from others. The original trilogy of books –Portuguese Irregular Verbs, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs and The Villa of Reduced Circumstances – is now published in one volume, The 2½ Pillars of Wisdom. And a new title, Unusual Issues for Olive Oil, was be published in 2012.

Stand alone titles include The Forever Girl, Trains and Lovers, La's Orchestra Saves the World -and to be published this summer, Fatty O'Leary's Dinner Party.

Alexander McCall Smith lives in Edinburgh with his wife Elizabeth. They are both members of the Really Terrible Orchestra, in which he plays the bassoon.

Find out more about the many wonderful worlds of Alexander McCall Smith at
www.alexandermccallsmithbooks.co.uk and view some interviews with Alexander courtesy of Penn State PBS here.

Picture by Chris Watt.

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