Rhodesian born British Author R. Alexander “Sandy” McCall Smith, CBE, FRSE, was born 24 August 1948 in Bulawayo, Rhodesia (present day Zimbabwe). He was educated at the Christian Brothers College before moving to Scotland to study law at the University of Edinburgh, where he earned his PhD in law. He also taught at Queen’s University Belfast, and while teaching there he entered a literary competition: one a children’s book and the other a novel for adults. He won in the children’s category, and published thirty books in the 1980s and 1990s
He returned to southern Africa in 1981 to help co-found and teach law at the University of Botswana. While there, he cowrote what remains the only book on the country’s legal system, The Criminal Law of Botswana (1992).He returned in 1984 to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he lives today with his wife, Elizabeth, a physician, and their two daughters Lucy and Emily (he lives close to the authors JK Rowling, Ian Rankin and Kate Atkinson. He was Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh at one time and is now Emeritus Professor at its School of Law. He retains a further involvement with the University in relation to the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He also became a respected expert on medical law and bioethics and served on various British and international committees . He is also the former chairman of the British Medical Journal Ethics Committee (until 2002), the former vice-chairman of the Human Genetics Commission of the United Kingdom, and a former member of the International Bioethics Committee of UNESCO.
He has since become internationally known as a writer of fiction and is most widely known as the creator of the The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series and was appointed a CBE in the December 2006 New Year’s Honours List for services to literature. In June 2007, he was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws at a ceremony celebrating the tercentenary of the University of Edinburgh School of Law. He is also an amateur bassoonist, and co-founder of The Really Terrible Orchestra. He has helped to found Botswana’s first centre for opera training, the Number 1 Ladies’ Opera House, for whom he wrote the libretto of their first production, a version of Macbeth set among a troop of baboons in the Okavango Delta. He is also the author of a testimonial in The Future of the NHS (2006). His use of the serial format, in his Edinburgh and Pimlico novels, has revived the nineteenth-century format used by authors including Charles Dickens and Armistead Maupin. In 2009, he donated the short story Still Life to Oxfam’s ‘Ox-Tales’ project—four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. McCall Smith’s story was published in the ‘Air’ collection. Both Laura Bush, the Former First Lady of the United States and Flea (Michael Balzary) of the Red Hot Chili Peppers are fans of his novels
The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series has also been adapted for television and ncludes 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 (also known as The Night-Time Dancer.), Blue Shoes and Happiness, The Miracle at Speedy Motors, The Double Comfort Safari Club, The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party, The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection and The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon. The Forty Four Scotland Street series includes 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