‘To say McCall Smith is a literary phenomenon doesn’t quite describe what has happened. He has become more of a movement, a worldwide club for the dissemination of gentle wisdom and good cheer.’ – Elizabeth Grice, Telegraph

‘The writing has the elegiac simplicity of the very best short stories, the ones that swoop right into the heart of someone else’s life, and then swoop right out again.’ Frank Coughlan


Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party

‘A Literary Amuse-Bouche’

It takes a lot to get under the skin of Cornelius ‘Fatty’ O’Leary, but then there is a lot of skin to get under. The heroically proportioned Fatty can normally take life as it comes. Right at home in easy-going Fayetteville, Arkansas, he is happily married to his childhood sweetheart Betty, and likes nothing better than the company of good friends Tubby O’Rourke and Porky Flanagan.

But when Fatty and Betty head off to Ireland on the trip of a lifetime, they find that they have left their comfort zone far behind. Calamity and mayhem ensue as one mishap after another befalls the beleaguered couple. Can Fatty’s broad shoulders take the strain or will he suffer one indignity too many? Will he get his just deserts, or just dessert?

Trains and Lovers: The Heart’s Journey

This stunning stand-alone novel, with explores love in all its guises, is proving hugely popular with fans across the globe. Now in its third edition (a beautiful paperback with flaps and a sunny cover), it is the star of an East Coast Rail promotion and has recently featured on large track-side ads from Edinburgh to Kings Cross. What’s it about? Four strangers sit together on a train journey and as the miles unwind so too do the stories of love that they exchange. A hauntingly beautiful short novel. What are the critics saying? ‘The best thing McCall Smith has written so far’ – The Scotsman

No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency radio series

The No.1 Ladies’ Detective radio dramas are returning to BBC Radio 4 with a new series in March. Watch this space for an update on dates.

Scotland Street returns to the Scotsman

Scotland Street is taking a break from its regular Spring slot in the Scotsman to give Alexander time to write two stand alone novels this year plus a re-imagining of Jane Austen’s much-loved Emma. Bertie will be back in Scotland Street next year.

A message from the man himself:

Welcome to my pages on the Polygon & Birlinn Limited website.
Here you will find information about my latest books and discover what is planned for the future. You will also find out about my events and be first to find out when I’m visiting your home town.

Do delve further into the pages on this site. I hope you’ll find much to enjoy.

Visit us often to get the latest updates or sign up here now to receive a regular newsletter about all of the Polygon and Birlinn publications.

The Author & Polygon

Alexander McCall Smith’s The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency was first published by Polygon, in Edinburgh, in 1998. Since then, a further 14 titles have appeared in hardback, paperback, e-book and audio editions, with total sales of the printed editions now topping 20 million copies in English and translations complete or underway in 46 languages.

This series is now published by Little, Brown in London but the author is still loyal to Polygon who publish the 44 Scotland Street and Corduroy Mansions books along with stand alone novels such as his new book this Spring, The Forever Girl and the very popular short novel, Trains and Lovers. Later this year we will publish what we are now calling ‘a literary amuse-bouche’, the screamingly funny Fatty O’Leary’s Dinner Party.

As you can see, Alexander McCall Smith is prolific! As well writing new titles in his five hugely popular series, he writes stand-alone novels, is involved in screen-writing, radio drama and opera libretto, and travels the world promoting his work. He is also deeply involved in what has become Scotland’s biggest community arts project – The Great Tapestry of Scotland. Alexander came up with the idea for the Great Tapestry in 2011 and worked with artist Andrew Crummy and historian Alistair Moffat to bring the tapestry into being. Dorie Wilkie took the base artwork and adapted it for stitch and volunteer stitchers right across Scotland stitched 165 panels (with a total length of 143 metres), each designed by Andrew Crummy and each telling one aspect of Scottish history from the ice-age to the present day. You can find out more about The Great Tapestry of Scotland here.