Author Alexander McCall Smith will turn 70 years old this year on August 24. Known to family and friends as "Sandy," he was born in the country formerly known as Rhodesia (now the Republic of Zimbabwe). The youngest of four children, he spent his childhood in Southern Rhodesia and attended the Christian Brothers College.
He went on to study law at the University of Edinburgh, where he earned a Ph.D. He then moved to Botswana, where he co-found and taught at the law school at the University of Botswana. Upon returning to Scotland, he taught medical law at the University of Edinburgh and was chairman of the British Medical Journal Ethics Committee and vice‐chairman of the Human Genetics Commission of the United Kingdom. He published a number of scholarly works during this time. He retired from teaching in 2005 to focus on writing novels. Smith was made a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in 2007.
Alexander McCall Smith is best known for his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The series follows the adventures and daily life of Botswana's first female private detective, Precious Ramotswe. Throughout Mma Ramotswe's life, her homeland Botswana is itself as lively a character as her family members, friends and colleagues. Gradually gaining notoriety in her field as the series progresses, a cavalcade of clients bring their problems to Mma Ramotswe. The mysteries she tackles are rarely about murder, but instead involve such things as burglary, jealousy, and missing persons.
In addition to the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, McCall Smith has written several other popular fiction series:
44 Scotland Street features a delightfully idiosyncratic cast of characters, going about their everyday lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. Readers are likely to sympathize with one stand out character, young Bertie Pollock.
Corduroy Mansions, a charming trilogy that takes place in London's Pimlico district and features eclectic characters, most notably dog-about-town Freddie de la Hay.
Portuguese Irregular Verbs, written in a very different tone from the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, features Professor Dr Moriz-Maira von Ingelfeld, a pompous German philologist constantly searching for the respect he thinks he clearly deserves. His attempts to earn recognition tend to go quite astray.
The Sunday Philosophy Club series features philosopher-amateur sleuth Isabel Dalhousie and a slightly different view of Edinburgh.
Interested in reading about Precious Ramotswe's adventures as a young girl? Check out the Precious Ramotswe Mystery for Young Readers series, with gorgeous illustrations by Iain McIntosh. Begin with The Great Cake Mystery .
Alexander McCall Smith has also written several appealingly unconventional stand-alone books, including My Italian Bulldozer.
For patrons of St. Tammany Parish Library who love everything Alexander McCall Smith writes, be sure to place a hold on "Alexander McCall Smith's NEXTBOOK."