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.
1. The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
2. Tears of The Giraffe
3. Morality For Beautiful Girls
4. The Kalahari Typing School For Men
5. The Full Cupboard of Life
6. In The Company of Cheerful Ladies
7. Blue Shoes and Happiness
8. The Good Husband of Zebra Drive
9. The Miracle at Speedy Motors
10. Tea Time for the Traditionally Built
11. The Double Comfort Safari Club
12. The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party
13. The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection
14. The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon (Nov 2013)
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. The second in the series, Friends, Lovers, Chocolate, was published in 2005; The Right Attitude To Rain followed in 2006 and The Careful Use of Compliments in 2007.
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 - writing over 110,000 words in 6 months! Television and movie rights based on the series have recently been sold to Working Title Films (who produced Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City). The series have been published in 3 separate books to date: 44 Scotland Street, Espresso Tales and Love Over Scotland.
In 2006 he, along with two other prominent Edinburgh authors (Ian Rankin and Irvin Welsh), published a series of short stories titled One City, with the proceeds going to the Edinburgh based charity, One City.
Up until 2004 he juggled his career as a Professor of Medical Law, with his writing (in addition to the Mma Ramotswe and Isabel Dalhousie books, he has written over fifty other books ranging from specialist titles such as Forensic Aspects of Sleep (the only book on the subject) to The Perfect Hamburger (a children's novel) and Portuguese Irregular Verbs (a collection of stories about eccentric German professors). However, in late 2004 he took a 3 year leave from his academic position in order to focus on writing and, to the best of our knowledge, has not returned.
For an extremely comprehensive bibliography of this prolific author, listing UK and USA publication dates, we recommend fantasticfiction.co.uk
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Alexander McCall Smith's website
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Q&A with Alexander McCall Smith
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 charactera 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 womantraditionally built, like Mma Ramotswechased the chicken round the yard and eventually caught it. She made a ...
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