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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

School Ship Tobermory

School Ship Tobermory

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: eBook Release Date: 11/10/2016

The author of the beloved No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency draws from his own sailing experience to deliver this rip-roaring adventure on the high seas. The first volume in a middle-grade adventure-mystery series perfect for boys and girls!Ben and Fee MacTavish are twins who've been homeschooled on a submarine. Now they're heading to the School Ship Tobermory. This is no ordinary schoolit's a sailing ship where kids from around the world train to be sailors and learn about all things nautical. Come aboard as the kids set sail for their first adventure.Ben and Fee make friends as they adjust to life aboard the Tobermory. When a film crew arrives on a nearby ship, the Albatross, Ben is one of the lucky kids chosen as a movie extra. But after a day's filming, his suspicions are aroused. Are the director and crew really shooting a film? Or are they protecting a secret on the lower decks of the Albatross? Ben, Fee, and their friends set out to investigate. Are they prepared for what they might find?From the Hardcover edition.

Precious and Grace

Precious and Grace

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Audio disc Release Date: 11/10/2016

Precious and Grace

Precious and Grace

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 11/10/2016

Precious and the Zebra Necklace A New Case for Precious Ramotswe

Precious and the Zebra Necklace A New Case for Precious Ramotswe

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 22/09/2016

Well before Precious Ramotswe founded her Number One Ladies' Detective Agency, as an eight-year-old girl she was already solving mysteries. Here, in this delightful, new, enchanting tale for children, we see how the young Precious became the crafty and intuitive private investigator we all know and love!Find out as Alexander McCall Smith tells the story of in another adventure featuring Precious Ramotswe.

Alexander McCall Smith's Marvellous Mix-ups

Alexander McCall Smith's Marvellous Mix-ups

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/09/2016

An irresistible bind-up edition of two infectiously entertaining adventure mysteries, Spaghetti Tangle and Teacher Trouble, from the bestselling author of the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith, and with amazing illustrations by Kate Hindley throughout. Spaghetti Tangle John and Nicky would give anything in the world for a bowl of chips or a piece of chocolate cake, but they live with their strange aunty and she won't let them eat anything that's not raw! One day they sneek out and slurp down a plate piled high with spaghetti. Now they want more ... Lucky for them, there's a competition to visit the spaghetti factory and eat as much as you like. What will aunty say? Teacher Trouble It's Jenny's first day at a new school and she looks very grown-up - her mum has made sure of it. But when she arrives at the school, she looks so smart that the rest of her class think she is their new teacher! Soon Jenny finds herself in all sorts of tricky situations. How long will it be before Jenny is found out? And what will happen then?

The Bertie Project

The Bertie Project

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Audio disc Release Date: 04/08/2016

The Bertie Project

The Bertie Project

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 04/08/2016

Boing Boing

Boing Boing

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 03/08/2016

Jane has always been just a little bit different - she has springs in her knees! She bounce, bounce, bounces all over town and they call her Springy Jane. She wins all the high jump competitions and can reach the top book shelf, and if anyone stares too hard she just bounces right over them! But a terrible flood and a trapped old lady mean Springy Jane is called on for help - will her springs save the day? Part of Barrington Stoke's picture book range for all the family, with easy-read font.

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/06/2016

Mma Ramotswe is not one to sit about. Her busy life as the proprietress of the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency gives her little time for relaxation. Nonetheless, she is persuaded by her co-director Mma Makutsi to take a holiday. But Mma Ramotswe finds it impossible to resist the temptation to interfere with the agency's cases - secretly, she intends . . . This leads her to delve into the past of a man whose reputation has been called into question. It also leads her to an orphan named Samuel. Meanwhile, Violet Sephotho, Mma Makutsi's arch-enemy, has had the temerity to set up a new secretarial college - one that aims to rival that great institution, the Botswana Secretarial College. Will she get her comeuppance? It will be a close-run thing.

School Ship Tobermory

School Ship Tobermory

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 01/06/2016

Follow the exploits of the children who go to a most unusual school - the sail-powered training ship Tobermory. When a film crew arrives in Tobermory Bay, Ben and Fee are invited to be extras. But their suspicions are soon aroused - is the film crew genuine, or are they up to something sinister? Ben and Fee soon discover the truth when they uncover a dastardly plan masterminded by a South American businessman.

Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine

Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: eBook Release Date: 31/05/2016

A Knopf Canada Original E-Short, anda spin-off story from the Isabel Dalhousie series.Philosopher and amateur sleuth Isabel Dalhousie has an unstinting commitment to her principles. Sticking to her promises has always been one of them. Then Isabel runs into an old classmate facing marital and financial troubles, who reveals a secret about a painting up for auction that becomes more and more difficult for Isabel to keep. In the meantime she comes across a revealing note accidentally put in the pocket of her son's jacket at daycare, and obviously intended for another classmate's parent.Thankfully, Isabel's devoted husband, Jamie, is there to help our heroine navigate her competing moral obligations. Beautifully perceptive and witty, this original short story by Alexander McCall Smith shows Isabel calling upon all of her intelligence, charm, and tact.

Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine

Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: eBook Release Date: 31/05/2016

A Vintage Shorts "e;Short Story Month"e; Original Selection Philosopher and amateur sleuth Isabel Dalhousie has an unstinting commitment to her principles. Sticking to her promises has always been one of them. Then Isabel runs into an old classmate facing marital and financial troubles, who reveals a secret that becomes more and more difficult for Isabel to keep. Thankfully, Isabel's devoted husband, Jamie, is there to help our heroine navigate her competing moral obligations. Beautifully perceptive and witty, this original short story by Alexander McCall Smith shows Isabel calling upon all of her intelligence, charm, and tact. An ebook short.

My Italian Bulldozer

My Italian Bulldozer

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Audio disc Release Date: 19/05/2016

Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine

Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: eBook Release Date: 05/05/2016

Edinburgh basks in glorious, but brief, summer sunshine, and Isabel Dalhousie - philosopher, philanthropist and mother - searches for the perfect birthday present for her husband Jamie. While carefully seeking out a gift, Isabel finds herself at a viewing for an auction, and happens upon an old friend in distress - a friend who decides to unburden herself of her secrets, and to reveal a clue within a painting hanging on the walls of the auction house.Soon Isabel discovers that this secret binds her not only to her friend, but also to another woman. Questions about morality and loyalty disturb Isabel's peaceful existence with her young son and precious family, but she must face up to them in order to ensure that no one is led astray. Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine is a charming and gentle novella featuring one of Alexander McCall Smith's most loved characters: Isabel Dalhousie.