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Edinburgh Writers – Alexander McCall Smith


Alexander McCall Smith is one of Edinburgh’s greatest living writers and he has a fantastically vibrant and interesting background, much of which is present in his huge canon of work. He is most famous for the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which has sold over 20 million copies worldwide and also the Scotland Street Novels, set in Edinburgh.

McCall Smith was born on 24th August 1948 in Zimbabwe, where his father was a scholar in the British colony and his mother spent her time writing. He spent his childhood with his siblings in the African country and thus got much of the inspiration for the famous No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series. He was educated in Zimbabwe and then in Scotland here he studied at the University of Edinburgh and received his PhD. He spent many years in academia, teaching Medical Law at the university and is now Emeritus Professor at the university’s Law School.

He has benefited from a hugely varied career history and it was only the huge success of the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series which led him to devote his time to writing fiction. He has seen huge popular success and has had his novels translated into over 40 languages, hitting the bestseller tables around the world. He has written many fiction series, collections of short stories and over 30 books for children. He has been the recipient of the British Book Awards Author of the Year Award in 2004 and received a CBE for Services to Literature in 2007. In total he has published over 50 works so far and shows no sign of stopping with his prolific attitude to his art delighting fans around the world of all ages.

McCall Smith has written extensively on Edinburgh for articles and news features, highlighting his love for the city he has made home and he still lives locally with his wife and daughters.

The Royal Scots Club

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