The best-selling author of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series has this week bought a collection of private islands in Scotland with the aim of turning them into a nature reserve.
Best-selling Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith has this week beat off stiff competition to gain the property rights to a series of uninhabited islands in Scotland’s picturesque Hebrides region. The Rhodesian-born mystery writer is estimated to have paid GBP 300,000 for the so-called Cairns of Coll island chain, which consists the 50 acre Eilean Mor, a collection of rugged islets and a two storey detached house on the north-eastern point of the Island of Coll.
Smith, the author of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency is said to have fallen in love with the islands during a series of sailing trips with his wife of over 30 years, Elizabeth Parry. Accessible only by boat and only during favourable sea conditions, the island chain is about as remote as it gets, and is home to a multitude of marine life, with the likes of seals, porpoises, sharks and even minke whales inhabiting the surrounding waters.
With inspiring views of the islands of Skye, Rum, Eigg, Muck and Mull, Smith is currently weighing up the idea of using the islands as a writing space. His long-term aims remain more ambitious, however, with plans to create a nature reserve. When questioned about his plans, the 64 year old issued the following statement: “They are very beautiful. I am going to protect them for what I hope will be forever. I intend to look after them and do nothing with them and will make arrangements for the same to be done when I am no longer here.”
The purchase of the Cairns of Coll has allowed Alexander McCall Smith to join a select group of island-dwelling authors, including Pulitzer-prize-nominated author of 1977’s The Wired Society James Martin and The Spider’s House novelist Paul Bowles, who are residents of Agar’s Island (Bermuda) and Taprobane Island (Sri Lanka) respectively.