June 24, 2009

James Herriot: The Life of a Country Vet

Posted in Biography, James Herriot at 5:28 pm by j128

James Herriot: The Life of a Country Vet

James Herriot: The Life of a Country Vet

James Herriot: The Life of a Country Vet by Graham Lord is a biography of the world’s famous vet James Herriot, pen name of Alfred James Wight, author of the books collectively known as All Creatures Great and Small.

Graham Lord, the man whom Alf Wight attributed his success to Graham Lord’s review of his second book It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet, has researched and written this veterinary surgeon’s life from childhood to an old man in utmost detail and for those who have ever wanted to see what “James Herriot’s” life was like behind the scenes, this is the book to read!

Some of the real life details are shocking, even appalling, such as Alf and Siegfried’s (Donald Sinclair) relationship – in real life. Or what was the real reason why Alf was excused from the RAF? And the list goes on and on. Included in this biography are photos of Alf’s early years during school, his school records, photos of the gorgeous and peaceful landscapes of North Yorkshire where Alf worked all his life excluding the RAF years, scenes from the two films, TV series, etc. All of it is really wonderful to read and to look at.

The James Herriot books are still enjoyable, even after reading this biography (it doesn’t spoil anything), and yet I find the books and TV series has more of a special feel after reading about the real James Herriot. So if you want to read about James Herriot, the famous country vet, this is the one biography I would recommend to all you people who love James Herriot and his books!

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 – Answers.com article