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The Real James Herriot


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About the Author

Jim Wight, born in 1943, followed in his father's footsteps at the Glasgow Veterinary College, which by then was part of the University of Glasgow, graduating in 1966. In 1967 he joined the practice of Sinclair and Wight in Thirsk, working alongside his father and Donald Sinclair (aka Siegfried Famon) for the next twenty years, when Alf Wight retired. He is still a member of the practice.

Jim Wight and his wife, Gill, have a son and two daughters. They live in a village below Sutton Bank near Thirsk.


When world-famous veterinary surgeon James Herriot died in 1995, the bestselling Yorkshire country animal doctor was known to millions of fans through his books and the TV series All Creatures Great and Small, although the inner man has remained elusive. Now Wight--Herriot's son and a veterinary surgeon himself, who worked in his father's practice and accompanied him on his rounds from the age of two--has written an affectionate, candid biography revealing many sides of Herriot unfamiliar to his fans. "Alf," as he was known to family and friends, was born James Alfred Wight (Herriot was a pseudonym) in England's industrial northeast, not in Scotland as many readers assume--though he spent his formative years in Glasgow and went to veterinary college there. His escapades as a carousing, lackluster veterinary student recall National Lampoon's Animal House. Herriot's many endearing tales of dogs and cats notwithstanding, he mainly treated large farm animals, branching out into pets later in his career. Wight portrays his father as a modest, down-to-earth and generous man, utterly unchanged by fame, a private individual who bottled up his emotions, which led to a nervous breakdown and electroshock therapy in 1960. This ebullient, moving biography, a worthy addition to the Herriot saga, shares many of the same qualities as the beloved vet's books: keen observation of human nature, gentle humor, vivid personalities (including the real-life people behind Herriot's semifictionalized characters) and lots of heartwarming anecdotes. Wight rounds out this solid bio with intimate details on Alf's writing career, the making of All Creatures (motion picture and TV series) and an account of his father's final brave battle against cancer. Photos. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Yorkshire veterinarian James Herriot (a pseudonym for Alf Wight) is well known to young and old alike, thanks in part to his best-selling books, including All Creatures Great and Small. Herriot's tales of the endearing patients and country folk he encountered during his practice were even made into a highly popular television series. Fans will enjoy Wight's biographical tribute to his father, based on his life with Herriot as a loving father, best friend, and veterinary colleague as well as on his father's papers and correspondence. Wight was also able to draw heavily on the recollections of family and friends, who willingly shared memories and photographs. Strongly recommended for public libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/99.]--Edell Marie Schaefer, Brookfield P.L., WI Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

"Inspiring and heartwarming . . . A fascinating look at the man behind the bestselling books that touched so many lives."
Author of Chicken Soup for the Soul

"Detailed and thorough . . . The real-life models for the colorful characters and incidents in the Herriot books are lovingly explained throughout, making the book feel like an earnest 'making of' documentary."
--The New York Times Book Review

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