Alexander McCall Smith was born in Zimbabwe and educated there and in Scotland. He is a Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh and is a member of a number of national and international bodies on bioethics. His books include works on medical law and criminal law as well as short stories for children and novels. They range from specialist titles such as Forensic Aspects of Sleep to The Criminal Law of Botswana, the only two books on the subject, to The Perfect Hamburger, a children's novel. His collection of African stories Children of Wax received critical acclaim and has been the subject of an award winning film.

McCall Smith caught the attention of the reading public with his book No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency featuring the first and only female detective in Bostwana Precious Ramotswe. He is not unfamiliar to Africa having taught in various universities there and also having lived for a while in Bostwana. No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency received two Booker Judges' Special Recommendations. Anthony Minghella and Sydney Pollack are now co-producing the No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency TV series with New Africa Media Films.

In the autumn of 2003, he released three new books titled Portuguese Irregular Verbs, The Finer Points of Sausage Dogs and At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances. These books introduce the unnaturally tall Prof Dr Moritz- Maria von Igelfeld who inhabits the rarefied world of the Institute of Romance Philosophy at Regensburg along with his tall and equally ridiculous colleagues, Professors Prinzel and Unterholzer.

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