Alexander (R.A.A.) "Sandy" McCall Smith, CBE, FRSE, (born 24 August 1948) is a Zimbabwean-born Scottish writer and Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. In the late 20th century, McCall Smith became a respected expert on medical law and bioethics and served on British and international committees concerned with these issues. He has since become internationally known as a writer of fiction. He is most widely known as the creator of the The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series.
Alexander McCall Smith was born in Bulawayo, in what was then Southern Rhodesia and is now Zimbabwe. His father worked as a public prosecutor in what was then a British colony. He was educated at the Christian Brothers College before moving to Scotland to study law at the University of Edinburgh, where he received his Ph.D. in law.
He soon taught at Queen's University Belfast, and while teaching there he entered a literary competition: one a children's book and the other a novel for adults. He won in the children's category, and published thirty books in the 1980s and 1990s.
He returned to southern Africa in 1981 to help co-found and teach law at the University of Botswana. While there, he cowrote what remains the only book on the country's legal system, The Criminal Law of Botswana (1992).
He returned in 1984 to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he lives today with his wife, Elizabeth, a physician, and their two daughters Lucy and Emily. He was Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh at one time and is now Emeritus Professor at its School of Law. He retains a further involvement with the University in relation to the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
He is the former chairman of the British Medical Journal Ethics Committee (until 2002), the former vice-chairman of the Human Genetics Commission of the United Kingdom, and a former member of the International Bioethics Commission of UNESCO. After achieving success as a writer, he gave up these commitments.
He was appointed a CBE in the December 2006 New Year's Honours List for services to literature. In June 2007, he was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws at a ceremony celebrating the tercentenary of the University of Edinburgh School of Law.
He is an amateur bassoonist, and co-founder of The Really Terrible Orchestra. He has helped to found Botswana's first centre for opera training, the Number 1 Ladies' Opera House, for whom he wrote the libretto of their first production, a version of Macbeth set among a troop of baboons in the Okavango Delta. He is also the author of a testimonial in The Future of the NHS (2006). His use of the serial format, in his Edinburgh and Pimlico novels, has revived the 19th-century format used by authors including Charles Dickens and Armistead Maupin.
In 2009, he donated the short story Still Life to Oxfam's 'Ox-Tales' project - four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. McCall Smith's story was published in the 'Air' collection.
Former American First Lady Laura Bush is a big fan of Smith's, as is Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
2004 In the Company of Cheerful Ladies (also known as The Night-Time Dancer.)
2006 Blue Shoes and Happiness
2007 The Good Husband of Zebra Drive
2008 The Miracle at Speedy Motors
2009 Tea Time for the Traditionally Built
2010 The Double Comfort Safari Club
2010 Precious and the Puggies (novella for younger readers, first published in a Scots translation by James Robertson.)
2011 Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party
The 2½ Pillars of Wisdom
2003 Portuguese Irregular Verbs
2003 The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs
2003 At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances
The Sunday Philosophy Club Series
also known as Isabel Dalhousie Mysteries
2004 The Sunday Philosophy Club
2005 Friends, Lovers, Chocolate
2006 The Right Attitude to Rain
2007 The Careful Use of Compliments
2008 The Comfort of Saturdays (UK title) or The Comforts of a Muddy Saturday (American title)
2009: The Lost Art of Gratitude
2010: The Charming Quirks of Others
44 Scotland Street Series
2005 44 Scotland Street
2005 Espresso Tales
2006 Love over Scotland
2007 The World According to Bertie
2008 The Unbearable Lightness of Scones
2010 The Importance of Being Seven
2009 Corduroy Mansions
2009 The Dog Who Came in from the Cold (published online daily in serial form at ; also published as a hard cover book on 1 May 2010).
2008 La's Orchestra Saves the World
Short story collections
1991 Children of Wax: African Folk Tales
1995 Heavenly Date: And Other Flirtations
2004 The Girl Who Married a Lion: And Other Tales from Africa
1980 The White Hippo
1984 The Perfect Hamburger
1988 Alix and the Tigers
1990 The Tin Dog
1991 Calculator Annie
1991 The Popcorn Pirates
1992 Akimbo and the Lions
1992 The Doughnut Ring
1993 Akimbo and the Crocodile Man
1994 Paddy and the Ratcatcher
1995 The Muscle Machine
1996 The Bubblegum Tree
1997 Bursting Balloons Mystery
1997 The Five Lost Aunts of Harriet Bean
1999 Chocolate Money Mystery
2000 Teacher Trouble
2005 Akimbo and the Elephants
2006 Dream Angus
2006 Akimbo and the Snakes
2008 Akimbo and the Baboons
1978 Power and Manoeuvrability (with Tony Carty)
1983 Law and Medical Ethics (with J Kenyon Mason) (this text has gone through several editions: a seventh, by Mason and Graeme Laurie, was published in 2006. McCall Smith contributed to all six previous editions.)