Date Published: 30th December 2023
It is with great delight that we relay the information that Alexander McCall Smith, author and academic, has been honoured as Knight Bachelor in His Majesty The King’s New Year Honours list, 2024. The acclaimed Scottish writer is also a librettist, a poet, and a great thinker and the award recognises his service to literature, academia and charity.
Perhaps best-known for his series of novels set in Botswana, The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, Alexander is in fact the author of more than 120 books, many of which are translated into 47 languages around the world. He is often referred to as one of the world’s greatest and best-loved contemporary novelists but he is also the creative-mind behind The Great Tapestry of Scotland, the largest community arts project in recent times and the longest embroidered tapestry in the world. He writes BBC radio plays and libretti for short operas and works with musicians and composers at home and abroad. And he is a poet whose work is filled (and fills others) with joy. In addition to all of this, he has written many works for academic study and more than 30 books for children.
Much like the characters he creates, Alexander is recognised the world over for his decency, wisdom and infectious sense of humour. In his writing he employs a rare warmth and humanity; his insight evokes a remarkable sense of character and place and his astute lightness of touch belies a real depth to his work.
Alexander today commented:
‘I am both thrilled and deeply humbled to receive this honour. It is not really for me but for the many people who have helped me to bring my books into existence. I am so grateful to them and to my readers.’
He has previously been honoured with the Presidential Order of Merit by the President of Botswana for his services through literature to that country, and for driving a positive public awareness of the country at a time when public perception of sub-Saharan Africa was overwhelmingly one of despair.
At home, in Scotland, Alexander’s writing attracts visitors from every area of the globe travelling here to search out his fictional worlds – with a particular fondness for his Edinburgh-set 44 Scotland Street serial fiction – and The Great Tapestry of Scotland in its new, permanent home in the Scottish Borders. He is much in demand as an on-point media columnist and content creator but at heart he is an imaginative, playful storyteller forever exploring new platforms from which to share his remarkable gift.
He uses his success and standing to support a wide range of charities, individuals and initiatives in a number of countries and is an inspiration to the young, a mentor and guide, comforter to those in need, and a friend to many.
Writer, academic, inspiration and friend; as Alexander’s support team of more than 25 years, we offer him our heartfelt congratulations.
(Photography by Kirsty Anderson)