Join BookBrowse today and get access to free books, our twice monthly digital magazine, and more.

Alexander McCall Smith biography

Author Biography  | Interview  | Books by this Author  | Read-Alikes

Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith Biography

Alexander McCall Smith began the now highly successful 'No 1 Ladies Detective Agency' series in 1996, after being inspired by the sight of a 'traditionally built' Botswanan lady chasing down a chicken for a meal. The first book in the series - 'The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency' was published in the UK in 1998 but didn't arrive in the USA until 2001.

Known to his friends as Sandy, McCall Smith describes the Botswanans as 'genuinely courteous people' He knows Botswana well as he grew up there and also spent several years on the law faculty of the University of Botswana; his volume on the legal system of Botswana (The Criminal Law of Botswana) remains the definitive and in fact, only book on the subject.

In 2004 he published the first in a new series, 'The Sunday Philosophy Club' featuring Isabel Dalhousie, a Scottish-American professor of moral philosophy.

When asked what ties the two series together he says that he believes it to be 'the comfort of the settings - not too cozy, but interesting and comfortable enough that you get caught up in the worlds of Mma. Ramotswe and Isabel'.

In addition to all his other projects, McCall Smith also finds time to play in the Really Terrible Orchestra and writes a daily column for The Scotsman newspaper titled 44 Scotland Street. These columns have been compiled into at least a dozen books (as of the time of writing).

Up until 2004 he juggled his career as a Professor of Medical Law, with his writing. He has written well over sixty books for adults ranging from specialist medical titles to his many novels. Plus a wealth of books for children.

For a comprehensive bibliography of this prolific author, listing UK and USA publication dates, we recommend fantasticfiction.co.uk

Alexander McCall Smith's website

This bio was last updated on 04/01/2019. In a perfect world, we would like to keep all of BookBrowse's biographies up to date, but with many thousands of lives to keep track of it's simply impossible to do. So, if the date of this bio is not recent, you may wish to do an internet search for a more current source, such as the author's website or social media presence. If you are the author or publisher and would like us to update this biography, send the complete text and we will replace the old with the new.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Interview

Alexander McCall Smith talks about Mma Ramotswe, a lady detective of 'traditional build', and the lead character of his delightful mystery series set in Botswana (The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series); how he juggles his writing (of more than 50 books), with his job as a law professor, and still has time to play music with the 'The Really Terrible Orchestra'.

You have written more than fifty books (from specialist titles such as Forensic Aspects of Sleep to children's books, including The Perfect Hamburger). Was The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency your first attempt at writing a mystery?
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency is my first foray into this territory, although I do not think of it as a mystery. I like to think of it as a novel about a woman who happens to be a private detective. Mind you, I suppose that makes it a mystery ... of a sort.

Your detective, Precious Ramotswe, is a wonderfully unique character—a Batswana woman of traditional build who decides to become a professional private detective. Is Precious based on someone that you knew when you lived in Botswana or is she a creation of your imagination?
There is no particular person upon whom Precious Ramotswe is based, but there is an incident. Years ago I was in Botswana, staying with friends in a small town called Mochudi. A woman in the town wished to give my friends a chicken to celebrate Botswana National Day. I watched as this woman—traditionally built, like Mma Ramotswe—chased the chicken round the yard and eventually caught it. She made a clucking noise as she ran. The chicken ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Books by this Author

Books by Alexander McCall Smith at BookBrowse
The Department of Sensitive Crimes jacket The Colors of All the Cattle jacket My Italian Bulldozer jacket The Novel Habits of Happiness jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Read-Alikes

All the books below are recommended as read-alikes for Alexander McCall Smith but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose read-alikes

We recommend 48 similar authors


Non-members can see 2 results. Become a member
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Last Murder at the End of the World
    The Last Murder at the End of the World
    by Stuart Turton
    The island is the only safe place left on Earth. Since a deadly fog overtook the planet, the ...
  • Book Jacket
    A Kind of Madness
    by Uche Okonkwo
    The word "madness," like many others that can be used to stigmatize mental illness — e.g., "...
  • Book Jacket: Long After We Are Gone
    Long After We Are Gone
    by Terah Shelton Harris
    Terah Shelton Harris's marvelous family drama Long After We Are Gone begins with the death of the ...
  • Book Jacket: Exhibit
    Exhibit
    by R O. Kwon
    Exhibit, R.O. Kwon's sophomore novel (after The Incendiaries, 2018), introduces readers to Jin Han, ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Look on the Bright Side
by Kristan Higgins
From the author of Pack Up the Moon comes a funny, romantic, and moving novel about life's unexpected rewards.
Book Jacket
The Pecan Children
by Quinn Connor
Two sisters deeply tied to their small Southern town fight to break free of the darkness swallowing the land whole.
Win This Book
Win Bright and Tender Dark

Bright and Tender Dark by Joanna Pearson

A beautifully written, wire-taut debut novel about a murder on a college campus and its aftermath twenty years later.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A W in S C

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.