Alexander McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and taught law at the University of Botswana.

However, McCall Smith is better known as a prolific author of fiction, with several series to his credit. He writes at a prodigious rate: “Even when travelling, he never loses a day, turning out between 2,000 and 3,000 words [a day] – but more like 5,000 words when at home in Edinburgh. His usual rate is 1,000 words an hour.”  He has gained the most fame for his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, featuring Mma Precious Ramotswe and set in Gaborone, Botswana. The first novel was published in 1998. By 2009, the No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series had sold more than 20 million copies in English editions.

According to his publisher in Edinburgh, “He was, until 2005, a professor of medical law at the University of Edinburgh, but gave up the position to concentrate on his writing and now writes full time.”

He published 30 books in the 1980s and 1990s before he began the series that has brought him the world’s notice. In 2008 he wrote a serialised online novel Corduroy Mansions, with the audio edition read by Andrew Sachs made available at the same pace as the daily publication. He wrote more than ten chapters ahead of publication, finding the experience of serialised publication to be “a frightening thing to create a novel while his readers watched. ‘I am like a man on a tightrope.'”

In 2004 he was awarded British Book Awards Author of the Year and Booksellers Association Author of the Year.  In 2009 he donated the short story “Still Life” to Oxfam’s “Ox-Tales” project, comprising four collections of stories written by 38 British authors. McCall Smith’s story was published in the “Air” collection.

He currently lives in Scotland, where in his spare time he is a bassoonist in the RTO (Really Terrible Orchestra).

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