Best-Selling Mystery Novelist to Give Beall-Russell Lecture

Oct. 25, 2005

by Julie Carlson (254) 710-6681

Best-selling mystery novelist Alexander McCall Smith, author of the "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series, will deliver Baylor University's annual Beall-Russell Lecture at 3:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 31, in Jones Theater at the Hooper-Schaefer Fine Arts Building. The lecture is free and open to the public.

"McCall Smith's enthusiasm for life, for Edinburgh and its people above all, is deeply comforting, and this (along with a rare talent simply to tell a good story) makes him justifiably popular," writes Lucy Atkins for the "London Times."

Born in Zimbabwe, McCall Smith was educated there and in Scotland. He became a law professor in Scotland, and it was in this role that he first returned to Africa to work in Botswana, where he helped to set up a new law school at the University of Botswana. He is currently Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, but has been a visiting professor at a number of other universities elsewhere, including ones in Italy and the United States.

McCall Smith has written more than 50 books, including specialist academic titles, short story collections and a number of popular children's books, but he is best known for his internationally acclaimed No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. The first installment, The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, received two Booker Judge's Special Recommendations upon its U.K. publication in 1998, and in 2003 received The Saga Wit Award. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series now numbers a total of six books and has been optioned for feature film.

In addition to his university work, he was for four years the vice-chairman of the Human Genetics Commission of the UK, the chairman of the British Medical Journal Ethics Committee and a member of the International Bioethics Commission of UNESCO.

He lives in Edinburgh with his wife Elizabeth, an Edinburgh doctor, their two daughters, Lucy and Emily, and their cat, Gordon. His hobbies include playing wind instruments, and he is the co-founder of an amateur orchestra called "The Really Terrible Orchestra," in which he plays the bassoon and his wife plays the flute.

The Beall-Russell Lectures were established in 1982 by the late Virginia Beall Ball in honor of her mother, Mrs. John A. Beall, and Lily Russell, former dean of women at Baylor. Past Beall-Russell lecturers have included journalist Bill Moyers and Nobel Prize winner for literature Czeslaw Milosz.

For more information, call 710-1399 or visit

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