James Herriot is the author of the beloved All Creatures Great and Small sequence about a small-town veterinarian in the Yorkshire Dales. Born James Alfred Wight on October 3, 1916, his parents moved from James's birthplace in Northern England to Glasgow, Scotland. Inspired as a young boy to be a veterinarian, Herriot entered Glasgow Veterinary College when he was seventeen. He was qualified after six years, and ventured down in to England to start his practice.
The twenty-four-year-old Herriot found employment in Thirsk, Yorkshire, with Donald and Brian Sinclair, the real-life counterparts to the hilarious Siegfried and Tristan Farnon of his later narrative. Herriot was to spend the rest of his life in Yorkshire with his wife Joan and their children, Jim and Rosie. His practice was interrupted for a year by his involvement in the Royal Air Force during World War II. Herriot continued his practice and cared for his family, although he always held an ambition to write a book.
He finally got his chance in 1966, when he began writing on various subjects. These stories did not sell well, and eventually Herriot looked to his own practice for material. His first publication, If Only They Could Talk, was an immensely popular, loosely-autobiographical tale of Yorkshire life, eventually republished in the United States as All Creatures Great and Small. Renaming himself "James Herriot", also his pen name, he brings to life the experiences of a country vet, as well as the culture of Yorkshire farmers and their animals. Herriot continued to write through the seventies, followed by a brief period in the nineties before his death in 1995. The Yorkshire Dales are still known as "James Herriot Country", where a museum stands in his old surgery in Thirsk.
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