Alexander McCall Smith was born in Southern Rhodesia in 1948 and first moved to Scotland to study at the University of Edinburgh. After spells living in Northern Ireland and Botswana, he settled in the capital in 1984.
A distinguished academic in medical law, McCall Smith is best known as a prolific author of fiction. His No 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series has sold more than 20 million copies in English editions alone and has been translated into more than 40 languages.
McCall Smith is also the author of the 44 Scotland Street serial, which was first published in The Scotsman in 2004 and continues to this day.
The author was asked to name his five favourite places in Scotland as part of The Scotsman’s 200 Voices series.
“It’s the name that does it – even if you have never been there before. And when you do go, as I do regularly (by sea from Morvern) you gaze at the brightly-coloured buildings in their semi-circle and you smile with sheer pleasure.”
The Isle of Muck
“Another magnificent name. It’s a tiny island, but it has a population, a school, a shop and place to have soup and a sandwich. I sail there, and on one occasion, when we were leaving, a whale breached, suddenly and magnificently.”
The road from Gullane to Aberlady
“In the right conditions, the view towards Edinburgh makes you catch your breath. Shafts of light descend from silver clouds; the landscape seems to glow. It’s a clean, northern light you would never find in southern lands.”
Dundas Street, Edinburgh
“Walk down towards Dundas Street from Queen Street. You look down towards the Forth of Forth and beyond that you see the hills of Fife. The sky seems to change very quickly; one moment it may be purple with rain clouds, the next light blue, the next white with wisps of cloud. It is a constant, beguiling light show.”
Buchaille Etive Mor
“This is my favourite mountain. I climbed it once, a long time ago, and since then I love just looking up at it from the Glencoe road. Many people have a holy mountain – if I had to choose one, this would be mine.”