Inspiring love for all creatures – great and small

Ranked #4,549 in Books, Poetry & Writing, #114,378 overall

I’ve always loved animals – especially dogs. When James Herriot (pen name for James Alfred (Alf) Wight) published his book “All Creatures Great and Small” in 1972, I instantly fell in love again – with this small-town veterinarian, his veterinary practice partners, his small Yorkshire town, and all of the marvelous, quirky characters (and their animals) that inhabit the book and the area.

“All Creatures” is a memoir of Herriot’s life, starting with his hiring as an assistant to the large- and small-animal veterinary practice in a Yorkshire, England town just prior to World War II. His book is a charming, warm glimpse into another era – when veterinarians didn’t have much in the way of gadgetry – just the knowledge they acquired in school, common sense, creativity, and experience.

All Creatures is the first of Herriot’s books. Subsequent volumes take the names of the other lines in the Cecil Alexander verse:

All things bright and beautiful,

All creatures great and small,

All things wise and wonderful,

The Lord God made them all.

Herriot’s deep affection and warmth for the people and their animals is apparent. Despite the many quirks and eccentricities he encounters, his writing is gentle and loving. Even the most difficult clients are remembered with a smile in his words. Even his own foibles, initial inexperience, and clumsiness are fondly remembered – Herriot’s humor is gentle, even when, on occasion, he is the butt of the joke – especially when the newly-minted veterinarian arrives on the scene.

As you read you become entwined in the lives of the characters – Siegfried (the senior partner in the practice), Tristan (his brother, junior partner and a bit of a trouble-maker), the local farmers who rely on their animals for their living, and the townspeople whose pets are just as important to them.

A couple of my favorite stories, still remembered all these years after reading the books: A flatulent boxer causing great embarrassment to his high-society owners, and the creative solution to the problem and a Pekingese whose aristocratic owner delicately refers to the dog’s issue as “flop-bott!”

Once you've enjoyed the first book - you'd better have these on hands to continue the tale! Each is fine alone, but you won't be able to resist following the life and times of the inhabitants of Skeldale House as the decades pass.

It’s rare that a television series is as good as the book it was based on – but this one is! Produced by the BBC, the series ran from 1978 to 1990, starring Christopher Timothy as James Herriot, Robert Hardy as Siegfried Farnon, and Peter Davison (later to become one of the incarnations of Doctor Who) as Tristan Farnon.

"If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans." - James Herriot

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Comments

Did you love these books, too? Or if you haven’t read them – do you want to?

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  • Snakesmum Feb 13, 2014 @ 7:45 pm
    Enjoyed these books years ago - perhaps I should re-read them all.
  • shignin Feb 10, 2014 @ 6:43 pm
    Great job
  • rauspitz Feb 09, 2014 @ 9:10 pm
    This has always been a great read.
  • DebMartin Feb 08, 2014 @ 11:33 am
    I think it's time for me to read this one again. Thanks for the reminder.
  • ChickenKrazy Feb 08, 2014 @ 12:23 am
    Sounds like books I would definitely enjoy. I am a critter lover. Nice lens!!
  • Arachnea Feb 07, 2014 @ 8:38 pm
    congrats! i read these when i was in high school. they were a book club feature. loved them!
  • nancymaggielee Feb 06, 2014 @ 6:28 pm
    I will have to read these, thanks for sharing!
  • CrazyHomemaker Feb 06, 2014 @ 6:08 pm
    Congrats on LOTD! I LOVED the series on the Public Station. It was a real good series. Nice lens.
  • Steve_Kaye Feb 06, 2014 @ 4:11 pm
    I've read his books and thoroughly enjoyed them. Thank you for this excellent review.
  • 3QuartersToday Feb 06, 2014 @ 1:23 pm
    I love all his books and even got to take a trip to Thirsk and see Tricki Woo's house. He was responsible for me majoring in Animal Science and working in the veterinary industry for many years.
  • ItayasDesigns Feb 06, 2014 @ 12:33 pm
    I love this set of books! He was such a wonderful writer. Very fun to crawl into another time and place. Congrats on Lens of the Day! :)
  • nancycarol Feb 06, 2014 @ 12:28 pm
    Congrats on your Lens of the Day! :-D
  • nancycarol Feb 06, 2014 @ 12:27 pm
    I read the condensed version of the first book, in Reader's Digest many years ago, and loved it. Of course, I love all animals too, and the good doctor's adventures reached all my emotions, for his practice and his patients.
  • campingman Feb 06, 2014 @ 12:16 pm
    Congratulations. Nice review on the books. I haven't read or seen them for years but I will add, Mr. Herriot did have a way with the word. Thanks for the reminder and again, congratulations.
  • DaisyDixon Feb 06, 2014 @ 12:16 pm
    I haven't read these but you've definitely piqued my interest! My mom would also really enjoy them, she is a big animal lover!
  • partybuzz Feb 06, 2014 @ 11:02 am
    I love these books and have read them many times. :)
  • KathyT Feb 06, 2014 @ 10:49 am
    Truly some of the loveliest books I've ever read. I loved the entire series. James Herriot was such an excellent and engaging writer! Congratulations on LotD!
  • Cercis Feb 06, 2014 @ 10:41 am
    Congrats on your LotD! Such a fine lens about a great series deserves praise!
  • ErinMellor Feb 06, 2014 @ 10:34 am
    I was up in Thirsk last week, "Herriot Country" it's such a beautiful spot and I can't help humming the theme tune to the TV show all the time I'm there. Once you're away from the town you really head back in time.
  • grammieo Feb 06, 2014 @ 10:00 am
    Easy and enjoyable reading, Im all for that and the stories are lovely!
  • d-artist Feb 06, 2014 @ 9:00 am
    Congratulations on LOTD! I as well love animals, they add to your life. I watch a program on PBS that sounds like this, it's an English series.
  • trevorjb1406 Feb 06, 2014 @ 8:55 am
    Yes these are good books and made wonderful TV viewing. A nice lens overall.
  • RenaissanceWoman2010 Feb 06, 2014 @ 8:10 am
    Stopping back by to congratulate you on Lens of the Day. :-)
  • LynnKK Feb 06, 2014 @ 7:29 am
    My aunts and my grandmother shared and traded these books back and forth in the 1970s. One or another of us would be giggling, snorting or laughing out loud as we read. And there were occasional tears when a particularly poignant passage was read. Loved the books and thanks for reminding me of great family memories. Congratulations on LotD.
  • Merrci Feb 06, 2014 @ 7:28 am
    Congrat on Lens of the Day! Great review of a wonderful book. Makes me want to read it again!
  • dawnraeb Feb 06, 2014 @ 6:30 am
    Oh, and Congratulations on Lens of the Day! Well deserved.
  • dawnraeb Feb 06, 2014 @ 6:29 am
    I read the first few of the series many, many years ago. They are wonderful books! Very good review of them.
  • Colin323 Feb 06, 2014 @ 4:21 am
    I live in Yorkshire and these great stories put Thirsk, James Herriot' s home town, on the map, along with the surrounding countryside, and individual local older residents - as eccentric as he describes them!
  • favored1 Feb 06, 2014 @ 2:52 am
    So glad you won. Congratulations on LotD.
  • IanTease Feb 06, 2014 @ 2:33 am
    I love watching re-runs of this show when i can and also think the books are marvellous. Great job
  • Ruthi Feb 06, 2014 @ 12:32 am
    I have read a couple of Herriott's books and thoroughly enjoy his love for and storytelling of the greatest creatures on Earth--the animals.
  • TheLifestyleChanger Feb 03, 2014 @ 9:47 pm
    The James Herriot's books are so good and the television series just wonderful. I had forgotten how entertaining they both are.
  • RenaissanceWoman2010 Feb 03, 2014 @ 7:03 pm
    I haven't read the whole series yet, but I would enjoy doing so. What a great selection for this review.
  • Artinspired Feb 03, 2014 @ 5:52 pm
    James Herriot's books are some of my favorite books to read. I love the amusing stories. Make it a great day!
  • Graceonline Feb 03, 2014 @ 3:02 pm
    This was a favorite TV series for me as well during the 70s, 80s and 90s. Thank you for the book review and the memories.
  • Cercis Feb 03, 2014 @ 2:29 pm
    A wonderful book and series to review. If you like the books, you'll probably love the TV series. If you don't want to splurge on the series, your local library probably has them for loaning.
  • favored1 Feb 03, 2014 @ 2:25 pm
    Nearly a month later since I was here, but I had to come tell you how much I appreciated this review. As I said before, I never heard of this title, but my hubby did. The thing is, we checked out the videos of the program created out of the tales from the book. We have been watching and find them delightful and are actually learning a bit from the medical part. Thanks so much for bringing this to our attention.
  • StephenJParkin Feb 03, 2014 @ 1:43 pm
    These were some of my favourite books as a child growing up and it also became a great British TV series!
  • LindaJM Jan 27, 2014 @ 4:48 pm
    I've read one of his books, and really want to read them all. What an amazing and compassionate veterinarian and writer!
  • favored1 Jan 08, 2014 @ 3:33 pm
    My husband would like this book and maybe the program. I've never heard of it, but plan on viewing it later with him.