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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

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
A Work of Beauty Alexander McCall Smith's Edinburgh

A Work of Beauty Alexander McCall Smith's Edinburgh

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 15/04/2016

I love this city, and always shall. I write about it. I dream about it. I walk its streets and see something new each day - traces of faded lettering on the stone, still legible, but just; some facade that I have walked past before and not noticed; an unregarded doorway with the names, in brass, of those who lived there sixty years ago, the bell-pulls sometimes still in place, as if one might summon long-departed residents from their slumbers. Edinburgh is a city of stories - a place that has witnessed everything from great historical upheavals, to the individual lives of a remarkable cast of characters. Every spire, cobblestone, bridge, close and avenue has a tale to tell. In this sumptuous new book, Alexander McCall Smith curates his own, distinctive story of Edinburgh - combining his affectionate, incisive wit with a wealth of stunning imagery drawn from Scotland's national collection of architecture and archaeology. Through a series of photographs, maps, drawings and paintings - many never before published - he takes the reader on a unique tour. Just like the city's architecture, the book can move in an instant from sweeping views to secret, hidden vignettes.This is a story of famous landmarks and lost buildings; the people who made them; the people who lived in them. 'A Work of Beauty' is an intimate portrait of a city by one of Scotland's greatest storytellers.

Freddie Mole, Lion Tamer

Freddie Mole, Lion Tamer

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/04/2016

Roll up, roll up for a sensational circus story from the bestselling author of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith, with fun, energetic illustrations by Kate Hindley throughout. Join Freddie Mole as he tumbles through the air, flies around the big tent and tames four growling lions! Freddie is an ordinary boy who joins the circus one day. He can't believe his luck as he is asked to understudy some of the acts. But is he brave enough to go into the lions' cage? A joyful, exciting tale of bravery and showbusiness glamour by a much loved author.

Freddie Mole, Lion Tamer

Freddie Mole, Lion Tamer

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/04/2016

Roll up, roll up for a sensational circus story from the bestselling author of The No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith, with fun, energetic illustrations by Kate Hindley throughout. Join Freddie Mole as he tumbles through the air, flies around the big tent and tames four growling lions! Freddie is an ordinary boy who joins the circus one day. He can't believe his luck as he is asked to understudy some of the acts. But is he brave enough to go into the lions' cage? A joyful, exciting tale of bravery and showbusiness glamour by a much loved author.

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Audio disc Release Date: 01/11/2015

The Revolving Door of Life

The Revolving Door of Life

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Audio disc Release Date: 01/10/2015

Alexander McCall Smith's Explosive Adventures

Alexander McCall Smith's Explosive Adventures

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 10/09/2015

An irresistible bind-up edition of two fabulously fun, wonderfully witty adventure mysteries, from the bestselling author of the No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, Alexander McCall Smith, and with amazing illustrations by Kate Hindley throughout. Popcorn Pirates The greediest gang of grub-guzzling pirates ever to sail the high seas is after the Popcorn Islands' harvest. Can Lucy, Hermione and Sam stop them? The Bubblegum Tree The secret ingredient for Gopal's Best Pink Bubblegum has not been delivered for two months. Billy, Nicola and Mr Gopal are off to the jungle in a flying boat to solve the baffling mystery ...

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: Hardback Release Date: 16/07/2015

Once upon a time in the African country of Botswana, there was a little girl who would grow up to be one of the most famous detectives in the world: Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency. When Precious finds out that all schoolfriend Nancy has of her missing parents is a photograph and a necklace, she offers to help. Precious and Nancy find themselves on an exciting adventure that takes them into the remotest parts of Botswana in their search for Nancy's family.

At the Reunion Buffet

At the Reunion Buffet

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: eBook Release Date: 26/05/2015

In this warm, intelligently observed novella, Isabel Dalhousie, Alexander McCall Smith's wonderful heroine, learns valuable lessons about inviting the past (and everyone in it) back into your life.Isabel Dalhousie--philosopher, mother and friend--has generously agreed to host the opening dinner for her school reunion weekend. Twenty-five former classmates will descend upon her Edinburgh home, bringing with them new names new looks, and old reputations. While some see the reunion as an opportunity to forge new friendships and reaffirm old ones, others aren't interested in changing their minds about the past. One particular classmate, Barbara Grant, was known as an especially mean girl who bullied the others relentlessly. As hostess, Isabel feels compelled to help her guests on the path toward reconciliation, but bitter feelings and long-held secrets threaten to derail her efforts entirely. With her trademark insight and compassion, Isabel Dalhousie may find a way to navigate the treacherous waters of mean "e;girls"e;, with mercy and forgiveness.

At the Reunion Buffet

At the Reunion Buffet

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: eBook Release Date: 26/05/2015

A Vintage Shorts ';Short Story Month' Original SelectionIn this warm, intelligently observed novella, Isabel Dalhousie, Alexander McCall Smith's wonderful heroine, learns valuable lessons about inviting the past (and everyone in it) back into your life.Isabel Dalhousie--philosopher, mother and friend--has generously agreed to host the opening dinner for her school reunion weekend. Twenty-five former classmates will descend upon her home, bringing with them new names, new looks, and old reputations. While some will see the reunion as an opportunity to forge new friendships and reaffirm old ones, others aren't interested in changing their minds about the past. One particular classmate, Barbara Grant, was known as an especially mean girl who bullied the others relentlessly. As hostess, Isabel feels compelled to help her guests on the path toward reconciliation and forgiveness, but bitter feelings and long-held secrets threaten to derail her efforts entirely. With her trademark insight and compassion, Isabel Dalhousie may find a way to navigate these treacherous waters.An eBook short.

Precious and the Monkeys

Precious and the Monkeys

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: CD-Audio Release Date: 07/05/2015

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, enchanting tale for children, we find out just who has been stealing her school friends' snacks and how the young Precious became the crafty and intuitive private investigator we all know and love!

The Akimbo Adventures

The Akimbo Adventures

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

Three classic adventure tales from the bestselling author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, now together in paperback for the first time. Imagine living in the heart of Africa. Imagine living in a place where the sun rises every morning over blue mountains. Akimbo and his parents live on the edge of an African game reserve. It's his father's task to protect the thousands of amazing animals who make it their home, and wildlife-loving Akimbo dreams of helping him. In these three adventures, Akimbo protects elephants from poachers, saves a lion cub from a trap, and rescues a man from a crocodile! This 3-in-1 collection contains Akimbo and the Elephants, Akimbo and the Lions and Akimbo and the Crocodile Man. Fans of The Jungle Book and the Just So Stories will love these stories of wild animals and thrilling adventures. Alexander McCall Smith grew up in Zimbabwe and then moved to Scotland. He was a professor of Medical Law and has written almost 100 books, including the well-loved and bestselling No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. He lives in Edinburgh. Illustrator Peter Bailey has worked with some of Britain's best-known authors and poets, including Allan Ahlberg, Dick King-Smith, Michael Morpurgo and Philip Pullman.

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
Isabel Dalhousie Series--Novels 1, 2 & 3

Isabel Dalhousie Series--Novels 1, 2 & 3

Author: Alexander McCall Smith Format: eBook Release Date: 14/04/2015

The second flagship and bestselling series from the literary sensation Alexander McCall Smith, the Isabel Dalhousie series is enormously engaging, wonderfully witty and complete with local Edinburgh colour and flavour. The novels follow the intrepid and irrepressibly curious Isabel Dalhousiepart-time sleuth and editor of The Review of Applied Ethicsas she muses on moral questions and wades through the mysteries of other people's lives, with the help of her no-nonsense housekeeper, Grace; frequent visits to her niece, Cat's, Italian delicatessen; and the friendship of Cat's musician ex-boyfriend, Jamie. In The Sunday Philosophy Club; Friends, Lovers, Chocolates; and The Right Attitude to Rain Isabel resolves tricky matters of both heart and mind, including sometimes, her own.