Alexander McCall Smith to receive 2020 Edinburgh Award

Author Alexander McCall Smith is to receive a prestigious award from Edinburgh in recognition of the “outstanding contribution” he has made to the city.

The creator of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency has been chosen as the winner of this year’s Edinburgh Award in recognition of his writing success, legal career and work in academia.

Mr McCall Smith is also known for The Sunday Philosophy Club and 44 Scotland Street series, both set in Edinburgh, and his books are published in 47 languages.

The author, who is Emeritus Professor of medical law at the University of Edinburgh, will become the 14th person to receive the award.

The Edinburgh-based author follows in the footsteps of last year’s recipient Ann Budge (2019) and fellow writers Ian Rankin OBE (2007) and JK Rowling OBE (2008), as well as academics Professor Peter Higgs (2011) and Sir Timothy O’Shea (2017).

He said: “I am immensely honoured by this award.

“The people who really deserve it, though, are those who have helped me in my work: the publishers, editors and bookshop staff who help get the printed word out about this wonderful city.”

In recognition of his achievements, Mr McCall Smith will be presented with an engraved Loving Cup from the Lord Provost Frank Ross and will have his handprints set in stone at the City Chambers as soon as it can be arranged within the ongoing pandemic restrictions.

Meerkat enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo
Meerkat enclosure at Edinburgh Zoo

Lord Provost Mr Ross said: “Through his wonderfully charming and engaging writing, Alexander McCall Smith has done much to promote Edinburgh across the world. It therefore gives me great pleasure to announce him as the recipient of the 2020 Edinburgh Award.

“The Edinburgh Award enables citizens to pay a lasting tribute to someone who has made an outstanding contribution to our great city and Mr McCall Smith has done exactly that through his truly impressive bibliography.

“He has written and contributed to more than 100 books including specialist academic titles, short story collections and a number of immensely popular children’s books, becoming one of the best-loved authors in the world.

“He is a true advocate for Edinburgh through his writing and legal career, and is a highly-deserving recipient of one of Edinburgh’s most prestigious awards.”

Nominations for the Edinburgh Award – which was launched in 2007 – are invited annually from Edinburgh citizens and the awarding decision is taken by a judging panel chaired by the Lord Provost.