Alexander McCall Smith has written more than 60 books, including specialist academic titles, short story collections, and a number of immensely popular children's books. But he is best known for his internationally acclaimed No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, which rapidly rose to the top of bestseller lists throughout the world. The fifth novel in the series, The Full Cupboard of Life, received the Saga Award for Wit in the UK. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive (April 2007) is the eighth book in the series. The series has now been translated into 39 languages and has sold over 14 million copies worldwide. Another series, beginning with The Sunday Philosophy Club, about a female sleuth named Isabel Dalhousie, appeared in 2004 and immediately leapt onto national bestseller lists, as did the second and third books, Friends, Lovers, Chocolate and The Right Attitude to Rain. The fourth Dalhousie mystery, The Careful Use of Compliments, is due August 2007. McCall Smith's serial novel, 44 Scotland Street, was published in book form to great acclaim in 2005, followed by Espresso Tales. Love Over Scotland, which continues the series, is due in November 2007.
In addition, McCall Smith's delightful German professor series, Portuguese Irregular Verbs, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs, and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances were published in the US in January 2005. He is also the author of children's books, including the Akimbo series, about a boy in Africa, and the Harriet Bean books. Pantheon has published Alexander McCall Smith's collection of African folktales, The Girl Who Married a Lion. McCall Smith is also the author of Dream Angus: The Celtic God of Dreams, a contemporary reworking of a beloved Celtic myth.
McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and was educated there and in Scotland. He became a law professor in Scotland, and it was in this role that he first returned to Africa to work in Botswana, where he helped to set up a new law school at the University of Botswana. For many years he was Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, and has been a visiting professor at a number of other universities elsewhere, including ones in Italy and the United States. He is now a Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh.
In addition to his university work, McCall Smith was for four years the vice-chairman of the Human Genetics Commission of the UK, the chairman of the British Medical Journal Ethics Committee, and a member of the International Bioethics Commission of UNESCO. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Crime Writers' Association Dagger in the Library Award; the United Kingdom's Author of The Year Award in 2004 and Sweden's Martin Beck award. In 2007 he was made a CBE for his services to literature in the Queen's New Year Honors List.
Alexander McCall Smith currently lives in Edinburgh with his wife Elizabeth (an Edinburgh doctor), and their two daughters Lucy and Emily. His hobbies include playing wind instruments, and he is the co-founder of an amateur orchestra called "The Really Terrible Orchestra" in which he plays the bassoon and his wife plays the horn.