|Alexander McCall Smith was in his 50s by the time he appeared on the bestseller lists with his No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. The series revolves around Mma Ramotswe, the amply proportioned owner of the titular agency, who comes to the aid of her neighbors in Botswana with a blend of warmth, wisdom, and insight that has endeared her to readers all over the world. McCall Smith was born in Zimbabwe (then called Rhodesia), where his father was working as a public prosecutor. As a teen, he moved back to his family's native Scotland, and he later studied law at the University of Edinburgh. McCall Smith enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a law professor and expert in bioethics. Among his accomplishments was helping to found the law school at the University of Botswana. He got the idea for Mma Ramotswe during a visit with a Botswana woman who raised chickens. "She was running spectacularly around her backyard chasing [a]chicken," he recalled to one journalist. "She caught the chicken and wrung its neck with very little ceremony and handed it over to us, and I thought: 'What a woman.' I thought about what sort of life she had had. I just had an impression of a character." THE NO. 1 LADIES' DETECTIVE AGENCY was published by a small imprint in Scotland in 1998, and in 2002 Random House began distributing his work in the U.S. There are now several novels featuring Mma Ramotswe, and in 2009 a television adaptation aired on HBO. McCall Smith is also the author of other popular series, including one featuring the philosopher and amateur sleuth Isabel Dalhousie, one featuring the residents of an Edinburgh boarding house, and another featuring the bumbling Professor Dr Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld of the Institute of Romance Philology. Additionally, he has written several legal texts and children's books. He and his wife, a retired physician, live in Scotland.