Biography

McCall Smith’s generous writing and dry humor, his gentleness and humanity, and his ability to evoke a place and a set of characters without caricature or condescension have endeared his books to readers

— New York Times

 

Alexander McCall Smith, often referred to as ‘Sandy’,  is one of the world’s most prolific and best-loved authors. For many years he was a professor of Medical Law and worked in universities in the UK and abroad before turning his hand to writing fiction. He has written and contributed to more than 100 books including specialist academic titles, short story collections, and a number of immensely popular children’s books. His first book, The White Hippo—a children’s book, was published by Hamish Hamilton in 1980.

But it wasn’t until the publication of the highly successful The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series that Alexander became a household name. The series has now sold over twenty million copies in the English language alone, and since the books took off, he has devoted his time to writing.

His various series of books have been translated into forty-six languages and become bestsellers throughout the world. These include the popular 44 Scotland Street novels, first published as a serial novel in the Scotsman newspaper and now the longest-running serial novel in the world; the Isabel Dalhousie novels, and the von Igelfeld series. He is also the author of the Corduroy Mansions series, which started life as an engaging cross-media serial written for the Telegraph online.

In addition to these series, Alexander has written a number of stand-alone novels, including The Forever Girl, Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party and Chance Developments—all published within the last 18 months.

Earlier stand alone books include Trains and Lovers: A Heart’s JourneyLa’s Orchestra Saves the World; and Emma—a reworking of the classic Jane Austen novel.

He has also authored many non-fiction titles, the latest of which are A Work of Beauty: Alexander McCall Smith’s Edinburgh and What W.H. Auden Can Do For You.

Recently Alexander has written a new children’s series—The School Ship Tobermory—the first of which was published in 2015, with the second, The Sands of Shark Island, due to be published in September 2016. This increases the number of children’s books he has written to more than thirty.

Alexander has received numerous awards for his writing and holds twelve honorary doctorates from universities in Europe and North America. In 2007 he received a CBE for services to literature and in 2011 was honoured by the President of Botswana for services through literature to the country. In 2015 he received the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction.

 

Awards

Awards

2015
The Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction

2013
Duke University, NC, USA—Duke LEAF Award for Lifetime Environmental Achievement in the Fine Arts

2012
Burke Medal for Outstanding Contribution to Public Discourse through the Arts, Debating Society of Trinity College, Dublin

2011
Presidential Order of Merit from the President of Botswana for services through literature to the country

2010
Giuseppe Acerbi Literary Prize, Italy

2008
Great Scot Award from National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA

Theakston Old Peculier Award—Book of the Year for Blue Shoes and Happiness

2007
CBE for Services to Literature

2006
Senior Fellow, Massey College, Toronto

2004
British Book Awards—Author of the Year Award
Bookseller’s Association—Author of the Year Award

2003
The SAGA Award for Wit

 

Education and Honorary Degrees

Education and Honorary Degrees

2010
University of Buckingham—Honorary Doctor of Letters

2009
Southern Methodist University, Dallas—Honorary Doctor of Letters

Queen’s University, Belfast—Honorary Doctor of Letters

2008
Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario—Honorary Doctor of Law

Newman College, University of Leicester—Honorary Doctor of Letters

2007
University of East Anglia—Honorary Doctor of Science
University of Edinburgh—Honorary Doctor of Laws

2006
University of British Columbia—Honorary Doctor of Letters
Aberdeen University—Honorary Doctor of Letters

2005
University of Parma—Honorary Doctor of Law
Napier University—Honorary Doctor of Letters

1979
University of Edinburgh Ph.D.

1971
University of Edinburgh, LL.B. (Bachelor of Laws)

Charity Connections

Charity Connections

Not just a bestselling author and the man behind The Great Tapestry of Scotland, Alexander is also heavily involved with a number of charitable organisations across the globe.

Since 2004 he has been a Patron of Waverley Care, a Scottish charity that provides care and support to people living with HIV or Hepatitis C. The organisation also works to prevent new infections and raise awareness of both conditions.

In 2009 Alexander became a Patron of the Global Alliance For Rabies Control, an Edinburgh and US-based charity aimed at preventing human deaths from rabies and working to alleviate the effects of the disease in animals.

Alexander is also Patron of the Three Lochs Book & Arts Festival held every two years at the Sunart Centre in northwest Highland Scotland. Held over one weekend and with smaller events running throughout the year, the two-day festival encompasses everything from music and comedy, to literature and film. Previous speakers have included Jackie Kay, Linda Cracknell and Iain Banks.

 

Closer to home, Alexander is also heavily involved with a number of local charities and organisations. He is a Patron of the Eric Liddell Centre based in Morningside, Edinburgh; a charity that provides specialist care and support for people of all ages, cultures and abilities. Alexander is also a Benefactor of Edinburgh International Book Festival, a Patron of the National Library of Scotland, and of the National Museums Scotland and the Founding Trustee and Chairman of the Great Tapestry of Scotland Charitable Trust.

Travel

Travel

Alexander visits Botswana at least once a year and takes many trips across the world, regularly meeting with readers in India, Australia, America, and Canada as well as visiting festivals and bookshops to meet readers throughout the UK and Europe.

See below for a gallery of images from Alexander’s trip to Botswana.