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Alexander McCall Smith - Author

About the Author

Alexander McCall Smith was our Guest Editor in July 2011 - click here - to see the books that inspired his writing.

Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world’s most prolific and most popular authors. His career has been a varied one: for many years he was a professor of Medical Law and worked in universities in the United Kingdom and abroad. Then, after the publication of his highly successful No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which has sold over twenty-five million copies, he devoted his time to the writing of fiction and has seen his various series of books translated into forty-six languages and become bestsellers through the world. These include the Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in the Scotsman newspaper, the Isabel Dalhousie novels, the von Igelfeld series, and the Corduroy Mansions series, novels which started life as a delightful (but challenging to write) cross-media serial, written on the website of the Telegraph Media Group. This series won two major cross-media awards - Association of Online Publishers Digital Publishing Award 2009 for a Cross Media Project and the New Media Age award. Alexander is also the author of collections of short stories, academic works, and over thirty books for children. He has received numerous awards for his writing, including the British Book Awards Author of the Year Award in 2004 and a CBE for service to literature in 2007. He holds honorary doctorates from nine universities in Europe and North America. In March 2011 he received an award from the President of Botswana for his services through literature to that country. Alexander McCall Smith lives in Edinburgh. He is married to a doctor and has two daughters.

Click here to read an exclusive interview with Alexander McCall Smith by Mary Hogarth.

A Lovereading guide to the works of Alexander McCall Smith...

The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency was first published in 1998 and then, suddenly, it took off in America to the extent that no less than11 reprints were required in 2003.

Since then, so prolific has been his output, and so has his popularity soared, that there was a time when the sheer multitude of McCall Smith's books led to confusion as to which book fitted into each of the various series under which he writes. One has hardly been able to keep up with the sheer abundance of books published - we reckon at least thirty in less than a decade.

Now, thankfully, things have settled down and the legions of McCall Smiths avid fans can compartmentalise his new books into the four main series under which they sit - The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency Series, The Isabel Dalhousie Novels, The 44 Scotland Street Series and The Corduroy Mansions Series with a few more on top!

There are constant features across the whole panoply of McCall Smith's output. Wry and witty observations about the day-to-day lives of normal people. An innocence and delight in the human condition. And, always, a twinkle on the eye shared by writer and reader. He is a happy writer and that makes for happy readers.


He is best known for the following 4 series of novels (they are shown below in the order they were published) :-

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series: 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, Tea Time for the Traditionally Built, The Double Comfort Safari Club, The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection, The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe, The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine, Precious and Grace.

Isabel Dalhousie series: The Sunday Philosophy Club,Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, The Right Attitude to Rain, The Careful Use of Compliments, The Comfort of Saturdays, The Lost Art of Gratitude, The Charming Quirks of Others, The Forgotten Affairs of Youth, The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds, The Novel Habits of Happiness.

44 Scotland Street series: 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, Sunshine on Scotland Street, Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers, The Revolving Door of Life, The Bertie Project, A Time of Love and Tartan.

Corduroy Mansions Series: Corduroy Mansions, The Dog Who Came in from the Cold, A Conspiracy of Friends.

Author Photo © Graham Clark

Featured books by Alexander McCall Smith

The Novel Habits of Happiness

The Novel Habits of Happiness

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/04/2016

Isabel Dalhousie is one of Edinburgh's most generous (but discreet) philanthropists - but should she be more charitable? She wonders, sometimes, if she is too judgmental about her niece's amorous exploits, too sharp about her housekeeper's spiritual beliefs, too ready to bristle in battle against her enemies. As the editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, she doesn't, of course, allow herself actual enemies, but she does feel enmity - especially towards two academics who have just arrived in the city. Isabel feels they're a highly destabilizing influence; little tremors in the volcanic rock upon which an Enlightened Edinburgh perches. Equally troubling is the situation of the little boy who is convinced he had a previous life. When Isabel is called upon to help, she finds herself questioning her views on reincarnation. And the nature of grief. And - crucially - the positioning of lighthouses. The only questions Isabel doesn't have to address concern her personal life.

ebook of the month
The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/09/2015

Mma Ramotswe, the proprietress of the No 1. Ladies' Detective Agency, is not one to sit about. Her busy life gives her little time for relaxation (apart from the drinking of tea, of course). Nonetheless, she is convinced by co-director Mma Makutsi to take a holiday. But Mma Ramotswe finds it impossible to resist the temptation to follow the cases taken on by Mma Makutsi, and to interfere in them - secretly, she intends ...This leads her to delve into the past of a famous man whose reputation has been called into question, and to join forces with a new assistant detective (and part-time science teacher), Mr. Polopetsi. While 'on holiday' Mma Ramotswe also manages to help a young boy named Samuel in the search for his missing mother; and then of course there is the agency's arch-enemy Violet Sephotho, scheming to set up a rival secretarial college. Lessons must be learned, whether we are willing or not, and in the end Mma Ramotswe finds that a little trust goes a long way, especially when it comes to having confidence in our dearest friends and colleagues.

ebook of the month
The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe

The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/05/2015

Even the arrival of her baby can't hold Mma Makutsi back from success in the workplace, and so no sooner than she becomes a full partner in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - in spite of Mma Ramotswe's belated claims that she is only 'an assistant full partner' - she also launches a new enterprise of her own: the Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe. Grace Makutsi is a lady with a business plan,but who could predict temperamental chefs, drunken waiters and more? Luckily, help is at hand, from the only person in Gaborone more gently determined than Mma Makutsi ...Mma Ramotswe, of course.

ebook of the month
The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe

The Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Hardback Release Date: 18/09/2014

Even the arrival of her baby can't hold Mma Makutsi back from success in the workplace, and so no sooner than she becomes a full partner in the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency - in spite of Mma Ramotswe's belated claims that she is only 'an assistant full partner' - she also launches a new enterprise of her own: the Handsome Man's De Luxe Cafe. Grace Makutsi is a lady with a business plan, but who could predict temperamental chefs, drunken waiters and more? Luckily, help is at hand, from the only person in Gaborone more gently determined than Mma Makutsi ...Mma Ramotswe, of course.

ebook of the month
Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers

Bertie's Guide to Life and Mothers

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/06/2014

As summer blooms in Edinburgh's gardens and Bertie Pollock's birthday appears on the horizon, all at 44 Scotland Street is not cake and sunshine. Newlywed Angus Lordie has been booked by his bride into what he must not call the loony bin; Bruce's first encounter with hot wax brings more anguish than he bargained for; and Bertie's birthday dreams of scout camp and a penknife look set to be replaced by a game of Royal Weddings and a gender-neutral doll. But fate, an amorous Bedouin and the Dubai Tourist Authority conspire to transport Bertie's mother Irene to a warmer - if not a better - place, and once again in Scotland Street the triumph of human kindness over adversity gives cause for celebration.

ebook of the month
The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Hardback Release Date: 18/02/2014

Not only is Mr J. L. B. Matekoni attempting to reform himself into a modern husband, but after her marriage to Phuti Radiphuti, Mma Ramotswe's challenging but irreplaceable associate Mma Makutsi has joyful news. With the arrival of an heir to the Double Comfort furniture empire and Mma Makutsi busy with motherhood, cobras and a senior aunt, Mma Ramotswe must grapple alone with tea-making, detective work and a new uncertainty. Disturbing developments over the will of a local dignitary, Edgar Molapo, point to fraud and a shocking family secret, while tracing the source of a smear campaign against the Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, in which notorious troublemaker Violet Sephotho may or not have a hand, proves to require a keen eye and an open mind. But the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is resilient and adaptable, and change brings salutary lessons: that our enemies are not always obvious, that a snake under the bed may be an ally, and that a mother's love conquers all.

ebook of the month
The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon

The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/02/2014

As Botswana awaits the familiar blessing of the rains and the resumption of the eternal cycle, seismic upheaval is taking place at the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. Not only is Mr J. L. B. Matekoni attempting to reform himself into a modern husband, but after her marriage to Phuti Radiphuti, Mma Ramotswe's challenging but irreplaceable associate Mma Makutsi has joyful news. With the arrival of an heir to the Double Comfort furniture empire and Mma Makutsi busy with motherhood, cobras and a senior aunt, Mma Ramotswe must grapple alone with tea-making, detective work and a new uncertainty. Disturbing developments over the will of a local dignitary, Edgar Molapo, point to fraud and a shocking family secret, while tracing the source of a smear campaign against the Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, in which notorious troublemaker Violet Sephotho may or not have a hand, proves to require a keen eye and an open mind. But the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is resilient and adaptable, and change brings salutary lessons: that our enemies are not always obvious, that a snake under the bed may be an ally, and that a mother's love conquers all.

ebook of the month
The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds

The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/08/2013

As a mother, wife, employer and editor of the Review of Applied Ethics, Isabel Dalhousie is aware that to be human is to be responsible. So when a neighbour brings her a new and potentially dangerous puzzle to solve, once again Isabel feels she has no option but to shoulder the burden. A masterpiece painting has been stolen from Duncan Munrowe, old-fashioned philanthropist, father to two discontented children, and a very wealthy man. As Isabel enters into negotiations with the shadowy figures who are in search of a ransom, a case where heroes and villains should be clearly defined turns murky: the list of those who desire the painting - or the money - lengthens, and hasty judgement must be avoided at all cost.

ebook of the month
Unusual Uses for Olive Oil A Von Igelfeld Novel

Unusual Uses for Olive Oil A Von Igelfeld Novel

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/10/2012

Life is so unfair, and it sends many things to try Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, author of Portuguese Irregular Verbs and pillar of the Institute of Romance Philology in the proud Bavarian city of Regensburg. There is the undeserved rise of his rival (and owner of a one-legged dachshund), Detlev Amadeus Unterholzer; the interminable ramblings of the librarian, Herr Huber; and the condescension of his colleagues with regard to his unmarried state. But when his friend Ophelia Prinzel takes it upon herself to match-make, and duly produces a cheerful heiress with her own Schloss, it appears that the professor's true worth is about to be recognised. Maddening, idiotic and hugely entertaining, von Igelfeld is an inspired comic creation.

ebook of the month
The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party

The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/03/2012

 While investigating unpleasant occurrences on a southern cattle-post, Mma Ramotswe, always on the side of the weak against the strong, has reason to reflect on Rule No.3 of The Principles of Private Detection: never lie to the client. Apprentice mechanic Charlie seems to be avoiding certain important responsibilities. And as Mma Makutsi's big day approaches, her nemesis Violet Sephotho is casting her net wider: by standing for election which could spell trouble for the entire nation. But as friends and family gather under starry African night skies, it turns out that even the most perplexing of apparitions - and the most shocking of crimes - may yield to rational explanation. And, of course, to Mma Ramotswe's inimitable way with love, intuition and redbush tea.

ebook of the month
The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection

The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/03/2012

ebook of the month
Unusual Uses for Olive Oil A Von Igelfeld Novel

Unusual Uses for Olive Oil A Von Igelfeld Novel

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/10/2011

Life is so unfair, and it sends many things to try Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld, author of Portuguese Irregular Verbs and pillar of the Institute of Romance Philology in the proud Bavarian city of Regensburg. There is the undeserved rise of his rival (and owner of a one-legged dachshund), Detlev Amadeus Unterholzer; the interminable ramblings of the librarian, Herr Huber; and the condescension of his colleagues with regard to his unmarried state. But when his friend Ophelia Prinzel takes it upon herself to match-make, and duly produces a cheerful heiress with her own Schloss, it appears that the professor's true worth is about to be recognised. Maddening, idiotic and hugely entertaining, von Igelfeld is an inspired comic creation.

Other books by Alexander McCall Smith

Good Dog Lion

Good Dog Lion

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/01/2020

A beautiful, heartwarming story set in Africa about a young boy and his yearning for a pet dog. From internationally bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith. Timo and his mother do not have much money - in fact, they have almost none. But that does not matter too much, because Timo has his mother and she has him. They have their little house. They have friends and neighbours. They have the world about them. All of that can be enough for happiness. There is one more thing, though, that Timo would like to have ...A dog! High quality cream paper and a special easy-to-read font ensure a smooth read for all.

Pianos and Flowers Brief Encounters of the Romantic Kind

Pianos and Flowers Brief Encounters of the Romantic Kind

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/11/2019

In Pianos and Flowers we are invited, through the medium of sepia images, to glimpse a world long departed. In these stories, inspired by long-lost photographs, the lives of the people in the frame are imagined and then explored, layer by layer. What must have it like to be them? We hold our breath for them. Our heart beats faster for them. We look again at the photograph in a new light, and say Yes, it might have happened just like that. This journey of exploration takes us to some exotic places. We share the lives of three sisters, brought up in Penang. We read of what happened to them, and to their Chinese neighbours caught in the tides of war. We see a group of small boys in a Glasgow slum, their young lives stunted by poverty, and hear how life worked out in contrasting ways for them. We follow a young woman's search for love in the unlikely realm of Egyptian antiquities. And through all of these photographs, and all of these stories, there runs the same refrain: the possibilities of love, of friendship, of happiness lie before us. There are big stories in these simple pictures. At first glance the photographs may seem unexceptional: the mere freezing of a moment in time. But delve deeper and you will realise that these photographs speak volumes.

The Great Clown Conundrum

The Great Clown Conundrum

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/10/2019

Roll up! Roll up! A new season is about to begin at the Shortbread family's circus! The big-top is ready and everyone is excited to get started. But as the shows begin chief clown Mr Birdcage is in a bit of a pickle - none of his hilarious props seem to be working! When budding detectives Billy, Fern and Joe get on the case to investigate, they soon discover that the props have been tampered with! But who would want to sabotage Mr Birdcage and why?

To the Land of Long Lost Friends

To the Land of Long Lost Friends

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 05/09/2019

The latest installment from THE NO. 1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY series . . .

To the Land of Long Lost Friends

To the Land of Long Lost Friends

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/09/2019

The latest instalment from the beloved THE NO. 1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY series . . . TO THE LAND OF LONG LOST FRIENDS As Botswana waits for rain to nourish the land, Precious Ramotswe's thoughts turn to love and friendship as vital nourishment for the soul. Times are changing, she realises. These days, more and more women are not content just to be a man's wife. The men, however, are suspicious of the notion of vegetarianism, let alone gender equality . . . At a local wedding Mme Ramotswe bumps into a long-lost friend, Calviniah, who confesses that her only daughter Nametso has inexplicably turned away from her. Not only that, an old acquaintance has simultaneously lost all her money and found solace in a charismatic ex-mechanic turned reverend, who seems to have cast a spell over several ladies in the region. With little work on at the agency, Precious and her colleague Mme Makutsi see no harm in investigating these curious situations. Meanwhile, part-time detective Charlie is anxious. He has few prospects and little money, so how can he convince his beloved Queenie-Queenie's father to approve of their marriage? As Precious and Mme Makutsi dig deeper into the stories of Nametso and the mysterious reverend, Precious once again ponders the human condition. She chooses to believe in goodness, that if our hearts are open, true equality can be found with one another. But in this world can that assumption be justified? It will take all her ingenuity and great moral sense to get to the heart of the matter.

To the Land of Long Lost Friends

To the Land of Long Lost Friends

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 05/09/2019

The Secret of the Dark Waterfall A School Ship Tobermory Adventure (Book 4)

The Secret of the Dark Waterfall A School Ship Tobermory Adventure (Book 4)

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/08/2019

The School Ship Tobermory and its intrepid young crew are back in Hebridean waters. When a violent storm blows them off course to a remote island, they discover a fisherman's journal written a hundred years ago which tells of a mysterious shipwreck crammed with treasure. But without a precise location, where do they start looking? An extraordinary chance encounter gives them a valuable clue. Before long, Ben, Fee and their friends realize they are not the only ones searching for the lost wreck and must face a ruthless and determined adversary who will stop at nothing to seize the prize.

The Peppermint Tea Chronicles A 44 Scotland Street Novel

The Peppermint Tea Chronicles A 44 Scotland Street Novel

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Hardback Release Date: 25/07/2019

To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose; it is summer in Scotland Street (as it always is) and for the habitues of Edinburgh's favourite street some extraordinary adventures lie in waiting. For the impossibly vain Bruce Anderson - he of the clove-scented hair gel - it may finally be time to settle down, and surely it can only be a question of picking the lucky winner from the hordes of his admirers. The Duke of Johannesburg is keen to take his flight of fancy, a microlite seaplane, from the drawing board to the skies. Big Lou is delighted to discover that her young foster son has a surprising gift for dance but she is faced with big decisions to make on his and her futures. And with Irene now away to pursue her research in Aberdeen, her husband, Stuart, and infinitely long-suffering son, Bertie, are free to play. Stuart rekindles an old friendship over peppermint tea whilst Bertie and his friend Ranald Braveheart Macpherson get more they bargained for from their trip to the circus. And that's just the start ... Take a few minutes to relax with a cup of your favourite tea and savour the affairs of the world in microcosm, teeming with life's loves and challenges. Little dramas writ large by the master chronicler of modern life and manners.

The Peppermint Tea Chronicles

The Peppermint Tea Chronicles

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 11/07/2019

Dream Angus The Celtic God of Dreams

Dream Angus The Celtic God of Dreams

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 06/06/2019

Dream Angus comes to you at night and bestows dreams. Just the sight of him may be enough to make you lose your heart, for he is also the god of love, youth and beauty. In this mesmerising retelling of the Celtic myth, Alexander McCall Smith unites dream and reality, leaving us to wonder: what is life but the pursuit of dreams? The Myths series brings together some of the world's finest writers, each of whom has retold a myth in a contemporary and memorable way. Authors in the series include Karen Armstrong, Margaret Atwood, A.S. Byatt, David Grossman, Natsuo Kirino, Alexander McCall Smith, Philip Pullman, Ali Smith and Jeanette Winterson.

The Second Worst Restaurant in France

The Second Worst Restaurant in France

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 09/05/2019

The Colours of all the Cattle

The Colours of all the Cattle

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/05/2019

The latest installment from THE NO. 1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY series Mma Ramotswe's friend will persuade her to stand for election to the City Council. 'We need women like her in politics,' Mma Potokwani says, 'instead of having the same old men every time . . .' To be elected, Mma Ramotswe must have a platform and some policies. She will have to canvas opinion. She will have to get Mma Makutsi's views. Her slogan is 'I can't promise anything - but I shall do my best'. Her intention is to halt the construction of the Big Fun Hotel, a dubious, flashy business near a graveyard - an act that many consider to be disrespectful. Mma Ramotswe will take the campaign as far as she can, but lurking around the corner, as ever, is the inextinguishable Violet Sephotho.

The Case of the Vanishing Granny

The Case of the Vanishing Granny

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 04/04/2019

brilliant McCall Smith adventure story, brimming with wit, wisdom and larger than life characters. Billy, Fern and Joe Shortbread are the stars of their family circus, but they also have another talent ... they're experts at solving mysteries! When their circus moves into a new town they soon make friends with a young boy named Tom. But Tom can't enjoy the circus because his granny has disappeared and he's worried he'll never see her again. With the help of their astonishing circus skills can the Shortbread circus stars crack the clues and find Tom's granny? Alexander McCall Smith is one of the world's most prolific and popular authors. He is the author of over 30 books for children and has won numerous awards for his writing.

The Case of the Vanishing Granny

The Case of the Vanishing Granny

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/04/2019

Billy, Fern and Joe Shortbread are the stars of their family circus, but they also have another talent ... they're experts at solving mysteries! When their circus moves into a new town they soon make friends with a young boy named Tom. But Tom can't enjoy the circus because his granny has disappeared and he's worried he'll never see her again. With the help of their astonishing circus skills can the Shortbread circus stars crack the clues and find Tom's granny? A brilliant McCall Smith adventure story, brimming with wit, wisdom and larger than life characters.

The Department of Sensitive Crimes A Detective Varg novel

The Department of Sensitive Crimes A Detective Varg novel

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/03/2019

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo introduced us to 'Scandi noir'. Now, welcome to Alexander McCall Smith's world of Scandi blanc . . . Ulf Varg works in Malmo's Department of Sensitive Crimes. Like all Scandinavian detectives he has his issues. In his case these include his unresolved feelings for his colleague, Anna; his impatience over the seeming incompetence of his irritating colleague Blomquist; and his concerns for the health of his hearing-impaired dog, Marten, the only dog in Sweden (and possibly all Scandinavia) who is able to lip-read (in Swedish). Along with his colleagues, Ulf is called upon to investigate a bizarre attack on a market trader, the disappearance of a handsome man who may or may not exist, and the affairs of a variety of young female students whose relationships with one another leave a great deal to be desired. Ulf and his team come to realise that the world is a puzzling place, lycanthropy (were-wolfism) exists and fish might have something to teach us. There is so much to learn if you are a Swedish detective, and in the first book in this new quasi-Scandinavian series, Ulf Varg embarks on these lessons with spirit and good humour.