Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith

Past Event: Monday, November 14, 2005

At Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

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Literary Arts

Sponsored by Christensen O'Connor Johnson Kindness PLLC.

As the creator of the utterly charming series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, the Scottish lawyer and author Alexander McCall Smith enjoys a loyal worldwide following. McCall Smith was born in Zimbabwe and taught law in Botswana, the rich backdrop for the Ladies’ Detective series. Generous in size and spirit, Precious Ramotswe solves cases not of violent crime but of domestic messiness—an overstrict father, wayward teenager, and cheating husband. Our sensible lady detective concludes, “All men carried on with the ladies, in her experience.”

The versatile and erudite McCall Smith has published more than fifty books, from academic texts such as Law and Medical Ethics (2003) to African folktales and children’s stories such as Akimbo and the Elephants (2005). A second light-footed series, Portuguese Irregular Verbs(2003), features the punctilious Professor Dr. Moritz-Maria von Iglefeld, who “often reflected on how fortunate he was to be exactly who he was, and nobody else.” The latest series of witty mysteries, The Sunday Philosophy Club, traces the cozy life of the high-minded heroine Isabel Dalhousie in titles as irresistible as Friends, Lovers, and Chocolate (2005). The author’s many fans hope he will overtake the one-hundred-book record of P.G. Wodehouse, his predecessor in sparkling farce. McCall Smith teaches medical law at the University of Edinburgh. An amateur bassoonist, he co-founded and performs with “The Really Terrible Orchestra” in his spare time.

Excerpt from The Full Cupboard of Life, in the series The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency“Such people are very helpful in our work,” said Mma Ramotswe. “They tell us things we need to know.”

“This is such a lady,” said Rose. “She will tell you everything she knows. It makes her very happy to do that. You will need a long, long time.”

There were many people like that in Botswana, Mma Ramotswe reflected, and she was glad that this was so. It would be strange to live in a country where people were silent, passing one another in the street wordlessly, as if frightened of what the other might think or say. This was not the African way, where people would call out and converse with one another from opposite sides of a road, or across a wide expanse of bush, careless of who heard. Such conversations could be carried on by people walking in different directions, until voices grew too faint and too distant to be properly heard and words were swallowed by the sky. That was a good way of parting from a friend, so less abrupt than words of farewell followed by silence.

Selected WorkPortuguese Irregular Verbs (2005) The Sunday Philosophy Club (2004) The Full Cupboard of Life (2003)The Kalahari Typing School for Men (2003) The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (1998)

LinksAuthor’s website

About Alexander McCall Smith

Author interview

Event Details

Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

200 University Street
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Transportation & Parking

This event will be held in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, the largest event space at Benaroya Hall. 

Benaroya Hall is located at 200 University Street, directly across Second Avenue from the Seattle Art Museum. The public entrance to Benaroya Hall is along Third Avenue.

By Car

  • From Southbound I-5
    Take the Union Street exit (#165B). Continue onto Union Street and proceed approximately five blocks to Second Avenue. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5
    Exit left onto Seneca Street (exit #165). Proceed two blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5 via Westbound I-90
    Take the 2C exit for I-5 North. Follow signs for Madison Street/Convention Place and merge right onto Seventh Avenue. Turn left onto Madison Street. Proceed three blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue four blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.

By Public Transit (Bus & Light Rail)
Benaroya Hall is served by numerous bus routes. Digital reader boards along Third Avenue display real-time bus arrival information. For details and trip planning tools, call Metro Rider Information at 206.553.3000 (voice) or 206.684.1739 (TDD), or visit Metro online. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, served by light rail, has a stop just below the Hall (University Street Station).

The 430-car underground garage at Benaroya Hall provides direct access from the enclosed parking area into the Hall via elevators leading to The Boeing Company Gallery. Enter the garage on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street. Maximum vehicle height is 6’8″. Blink charging stations are available for electric vehicles. The event rate is $16.

Parking is also available at:

  • The Cobb Building (enter on University Street between Third and Fourth avenues).
  • The Russell Investments Center (enter on Union Street between First and Second avenues).
  • There are many other garages within a one-block radius of Benaroya Hall, along with numerous on-street parking options.


Open Captioning is an option for people who have hearing loss, where a captioning screen displaying the words that are spoken or sung is placed on stage. This option is present at every event at Benaroya Hall in our 2019/20 Season.

Assisted Listening Devices (ALDs) are devices that people with hearing loss use in conjunction with their hearing device (hearing aids or cochlear implants). Benaroya Hall has an infrared hearing system, which transmits sound by light beams. Headsets are available in The Boeing Company Gallery coat check and the Head Usher stations in both lobbies.

Sign Language Interpretation is available upon request for Deaf, DeafBlind, and hard of hearing individuals. To make a request for ASL interpretation, please contact us at or 206.621.2230×10. Please note: we appreciate a two-week advance notice to allow us time to secure interpretation.

Wheelchair Accessible Seating and Accessible Restrooms are available in all sections at our venues, and our venues are fully accessible to ticket holders with physical mobility concerns. Guide and service dogs are also welcome. Among other features, Benaroya Hall has designated parking spaces adjacent to elevators in their parking garage. Elevators with Braille signage go to all levels within the Hall. A unisex restroom is also available. For more details on their accessibility features, click here.

We are pleased to offer these accessibility services at our venues, and they are provided at no additional cost to ticket holders. Please contact us with any questions and feedback about how we can be more accessible and inclusive.  Our Patron Services Manager is available at, or Monday-Thursday from 10:00am – 5:00pm, and Fridays from 10:00am – 1:00pm, at 206.621.2230×10.