September 9, 2006

All Creatures Great and Small

Posted in Comedy, James Herriot at 1:55 am by j128

All Creatures Great & Small

Audio recording of All Creatures Great and Small, narrated by Christopher Timothy

All Creatures Great and Small is a fictionalized account by James Herriot, the pseudonym of Alfred Wight, of his years as a veterinary surgeon. It is an omnibus of his first two books, If Only They Could Talk and It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet, which were considered too short to publish individually in the US. The name derives from the second line of the hymn, All Things Bright and Beautiful and it was suggested by Mr. Herriot’s daughter who had thought the volume ought to be called Ill Creatures Great and Small.

The first volumn deals with James Herriot’s early days as a vet, from the time he was hired by Siegfried Farnon to the marriage of his wife, Helen.

In all of James Herriot’s books the accounts are fictionalized and names are changed. For example, my favorite patient in All Creatures Great and Small is Triki Woo and his mistress, Mrs. Pumphrey, whose characters are based upon are Bambi and his mistress Miss Marjory Warner. Siegfried was actually much more eccentric in real life; indeed, former colleagues and clients have said Siegfried’s character was considerably toned down. Siegfried’s real name was Donald Sinclair.

Tristan, Sigfried’s brother, was also a veterinary surgeon or veterinarian in US usage. His real name was Brian Sinclair. Contrast to his brother, Tristan enjoyed James’s fictionalized portrayal of himself as the ne’er-do-well brother.

The series gained such popularity that it was made into a feature film and a TV series titled All Creatures Great and Small. I do know that the TV series is available on region 1 and region 2 DVD, but I’m not sure about the movie (availability wise).

James Herriot’s works have also inspired many people to become vets themselves.

I have also read the sequel to All Creatures Great and Small: All Things Bright and Beautiful.

The series are: (volumes)

  1. All Creatures Great and Small (contains If Only They Could Talk & It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet)
  2. All Things Bright and Beautiful (contains Let Sleeping Vets Lie and Vet in Harness)
  3. All Things Wise and Wonderful (contains Vets Might Fly and Vet in a Spin)


  1. If Only They Could Talk
  2. It Shouldn’t Happen To a Vet
  3. Let Sleeping Vets Lie
  4. Vet in Harness
  5. Vets Might Fly
  6. Vet in a Spin
  7. James Herriot’s Yorkshire
  8. The Lord God Made Them All
  9. Every Living Thing
  10. James Herriot’s Dog Stories

James Herriot also wrote books about animal experiences, probably fictitious, for younger children. I have read one: The Market Square Dog.

The series are also available on audio CD read by Christopher Timothy.


All Creatures Great & Small – article



  1. Miss Kitty In The City said,

    I am not a creature BUT I am great and small!

    Like your blog and your postings. You are very thorough and informative on a wide range of subjects. Not as much as ME BUT still very cool. 🙂

  2. Miss Kitty In The City said,

    Would you consider reviewing some political books, too? I am interested in current politics. Even though I am not running for Prime Minister….yet!

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