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Alexander McCall Smith

Prolific British writer Alexander McCall Smith is probably best known at this time as the author of the highly popular The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series first published in 1998. Now on HBO, the series, starring Jill Scott and Anika Noni Rose, debuted with great success in 2008.

However, Smith is also responsible for such series as The 2 ˝ Pillars of Wisdom (3 books), The Sunday Philosophy Club (also known as Isabel Dalhousie Mysteries) (5 books), and 44 Scotland Street (5 books).

Smith has written three short story collections and 19 children’s stories as well as numerous academic texts regarding various law issues including medical ethics, family law, criminal law, and forensics. According to his website, “he is also professor emeritus of medical law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and has served on national and international bodies concerned with bioethics.”

He was born August 24, 1948, in Southern Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe. Educated at the Christian Brothers College, Smith studied law at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He taught law at the University of Botswana before returning to Edinburgh where he and his wife currently live.

The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series was first published in 1998. Mma Precious Ramotswe (Jill Scott) founded the first female owned detective agency in Botswana, located in the capital city of Gaborone. Ramotswe is also the main detective. Her assistant, Mma Grace Makutsi (Anika Noni Rose), observes her boss at work and tries her hand at detection often with amusing results. At the end of the first season, Grace is promoted.

Other characters on the show include Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni, a mechanic who owns Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors, and is Mma Ramotswe’s future husband, and Mma Silvia Potokwane who is the matron of an orphanage east of Gaborone. Other recurring characters add to the richness of the series.

All of the characters of the series seem like they were born to play their roles, especially the two main stars. They both show great respect for their roles and for the people and history of Botswana.

Smith reveals his love of the country in his writing. It is obvious he has great respect for the people, the land, and the animals that inhabit the great continent. He presents vivid descriptions of the culture and traditions of Botswana and of Africa.

The producers and writers of the HBO series have created a vivid showcase for this beautiful land. The pilot was written by Richard Curtis and the late Anthony Minghella, who also directed the show. Curtis continues with the series.

The tenth book in the series, Tea Time for the Traditionally Built was published in 2009.


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