GollyGearHope profile image

Inspiring love for all creatures - great and small

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 this on hand to continue the tale! Each of the books in the series 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

© 2014 Hope Last updated on October 11, 2014

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Did you love these books, too? Or if you haven't read them - do you want to? 40 comments

favored profile image

favored 9 months ago from USA Level 7 Commenter

My husband would like this book and maybe the program. I've never heard of it, but plan on viewing it later with him.


Linda BookLady profile image

Linda BookLady 8 months ago from Post Falls, Idaho, USA Level 4 Commenter

I've read one of his books, and really want to read them all. What an amazing and compassionate veterinarian and writer!


Dressage Husband profile image

Dressage Husband 8 months ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada Level 5 Commenter

These were some of my favourite books as a child growing up and it also became a great British TV series!


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favored 8 months ago from USA Level 7 Commenter

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.


GeorgeneMBramlage profile image

GeorgeneMBramlage 8 months ago from southwestern Virginia Level 4 Commenter

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.


ecogranny profile image

ecogranny 8 months ago from San Francisco Level 7 Commenter

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.


Art Inspired profile image

Art Inspired 8 months ago Level 1 Commenter

James Herriot's books are some of my favorite books to read. I love the amusing stories. Make it a great day!


Diana Wenzel profile image

Diana Wenzel 8 months ago from Colorado Level 6 Commenter

I haven't read the whole series yet, but I would enjoy doing so. What a great selection for this review.


Rangoon House profile image

Rangoon House 8 months ago Level 1 Commenter

The James Herriot's books are so good and the television series just wonderful. I had forgotten how entertaining they both are.


Ruthi 8 months ago

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.


IanTease profile image

IanTease 8 months ago Level 2 Commenter

I love watching re-runs of this show when i can and also think the books are marvellous. Great job


favored profile image

favored 8 months ago from USA Level 7 Commenter

So glad you won. Congratulations on LotD.


Colin323 profile image

Colin323 8 months ago from Ilkley, Yorkshire Level 6 Commenter

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!


DawnRae64 profile image

DawnRae64 8 months ago from Maryland, USA Level 4 Commenter

I read the first few of the series many, many years ago. They are wonderful books! Very good review of them.


DawnRae64 profile image

DawnRae64 8 months ago from Maryland, USA Level 4 Commenter

Oh, and Congratulations on Lens of the Day! Well deserved.


Merrci profile image

Merrci 8 months ago from Oregon's Southern Coast Level 7 Commenter

Congrat on Lens of the Day! Great review of a wonderful book. Makes me want to read it again!


Lynn Klobuchar profile image

Lynn Klobuchar 8 months ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota Level 5 Commenter

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.


Diana Wenzel profile image

Diana Wenzel 8 months ago from Colorado Level 6 Commenter

Stopping back by to congratulate you on Lens of the Day. :-)


trevorjb1406 profile image

trevorjb1406 8 months ago Level 3 Commenter

Yes these are good books and made wonderful TV viewing. A nice lens overall.


delia-delia profile image

delia-delia 8 months ago Level 5 Commenter

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.


GrammieOlivia profile image

GrammieOlivia 8 months ago from Toronto Level 7 Commenter

Easy and enjoyable reading, Im all for that and the stories are lovely!


Erin Mellor profile image

Erin Mellor 8 months ago from Europe Level 3 Commenter

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.


GeorgeneMBramlage profile image

GeorgeneMBramlage 8 months ago from southwestern Virginia Level 4 Commenter

Congrats on your LotD! Such a fine lens about a great series deserves praise!


writerkath profile image

writerkath 8 months ago Level 3 Commenter

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!


Faye Rutledge profile image

Faye Rutledge 8 months ago from Concord VA Level 4 Commenter

I love these books and have read them many times. :)


Zeross4 profile image

Zeross4 8 months ago Level 5 Commenter

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!


CampingmanNW profile image

CampingmanNW 8 months ago Level 4 Commenter

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.


Nancy Hardin profile image

Nancy Hardin 8 months ago from Las Vegas, NV Level 7 Commenter

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.


Nancy Hardin profile image

Nancy Hardin 8 months ago from Las Vegas, NV Level 7 Commenter

Congrats on your Lens of the Day! :-D


ItayaLightbourne profile image

ItayaLightbourne 8 months ago from Topeka, KS Level 2 Commenter

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! :)


ThreeQuarters2Day profile image

ThreeQuarters2Day 8 months ago from Nebraska Level 4 Commenter

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.


SteveKaye profile image

SteveKaye 8 months ago from Placentia, CA, USA Level 4 Commenter

I've read his books and thoroughly enjoyed them. Thank you for this excellent review.


CrazyHomemaker profile image

CrazyHomemaker 8 months ago

Congrats on LOTD! I LOVED the series on the Public Station. It was a real good series. Nice lens.


Rock Artist profile image

Rock Artist 8 months ago Level 1 Commenter

I will have to read these, thanks for sharing!


Arachnea profile image

Arachnea 8 months ago from Texas USA Level 7 Commenter

congrats! i read these when i was in high school. they were a book club feature. loved them!


ChickenKrazy profile image

ChickenKrazy 8 months ago

Sounds like books I would definitely enjoy. I am a critter lover. Nice lens!!


DebMartin profile image

DebMartin 8 months ago Level 3 Commenter

I think it's time for me to read this one again. Thanks for the reminder.


anonymous 8 months ago

This has always been a great read.


shignin 8 months ago

Great job


Snakesmum profile image

Snakesmum 8 months ago from Victoria, Australia Level 5 Commenter

Enjoyed these books years ago - perhaps I should re-read them all.

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