Thursday, 24 July 2008

james herriot

This is the official wikepidia entry for james herriot (alf wright)..

James Alfred Wight was born on 3 October 1916 in Sunderland, County Durham, to James (1890-1960) and Hannah (1890-1980) Wight. Shortly after their wedding, the Wights moved from Blandford Street, Sunderland to Glasgow in Scotland, where James took work as a pianist at a local cinema, and Hannah was a singer. For Alf's birth, his mother returned to Sunderland, bringing him back to Glasgow when he was three weeks old. He attended Yoker Primary School and Hillhead High School.

In 1939, at the age of twenty-three, he qualified as a veterinary surgeon from Glasgow Veterinary College. In January 1940 he took a brief job at a veterinary practice in Sunderland, but moved in July to work in a rural practice based in the town of Thirsk, Yorkshire, close to the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors, where he was to remain for the rest of his life. On 5 November 1941, he married Joan Catherine Anderson Danbury. The couple had two children, James Alexander (Jim), born 1943, who also became a vet and was a partner in the practice, and Rosemary (Rosie), born 1947, who became a medical doctor.

From 1942, Wight served in the Royal Air Force. His wife moved to her parents' house during this time, and upon being discharged from the RAF as a Leading Aircraftman, Wight joined her. They lived here until 1946, at which point they moved back to 23 Kirkgate, staying until 1953. Later, he moved with his wife to a house on Topcliffe Road, Thirsk, opposite the secondary school. The original practice is now a museum, "The World of James Herriot", while the Topcliffe Road house is now in private ownership and not open to the public. He later moved with his family to the village of Thirlby, about 4 miles from Thirsk, where he lived until his death.

Wight intended for years to write a book, but with most of his time consumed by veterinary practice and family, his writing ambition went nowhere. Challenged by his wife, in 1966 (at the age of 50), he began writing. After several rejected stories on other subjects like football, he turned to what he knew best. If Only They Could Talk was published in the United Kingdom in 1969, but sales were slow until Thomas McCormack, of St. Martin's Press in New York City, received a copy and arranged to have the first two books published as a single volume in the United States. The resulting book, titled All Creatures Great and Small, was an overnight success, spawning six sequels (published as four outside the UK), movies, and a successful television adaptation.

Wight was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1992, and underwent treatment in the Lambert Memorial Hospital in Thirsk. He died 23 February 1995, aged 78, at home in Thirlby.

To me James herriot conjures up images of a bygone era and if I want to cheer myself up I read any of his books and immerse myself in the world of darrowby. I want this blog to be a tribute to this magnificent author and in my next post I will be reviewing each of his books in chronological order.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.

I'm eager to read more of your thoughts, and your reviews of James Herriot's work.

I had forgotten about "The Lord God Made Them All." Haven't read it in a long time.
Have you heard the audiobooks by Chris Timothy? Great stuff!

Anonymous said...

Also, wanted to let you know- I posted a review of The Real James Herriot over at my site.
Here's the link: