James Alfred Wight OBE FRCVS, better known by his pen name James Herriot, was a British veterinary surgeon and novelist. Born in Sunderland, Wight graduated from Glasgow Veterinary College in 1939, returning to England to become a veterinary surgeon in Yorkshire, where he practiced for almost 50 years.
Alf Wight was born on 3 October 1916 in Sunderland, County Durham, England. Although Wight was born in England, the family moved to Glasgow when Alf was a child and he lived there happily until leaving for Sunderland, and then to Thirsk in 1940. He had a "soft, lilting Scottish accent," according to actor Christopher Timothy.
He was Born in Sunderland, Wight graduated from Glasgow Veterinary College in 1939, returning to England to become a veterinary surgeon in Yorkshire, where he practiced for almost 50 years. He is best known for writing a series of eight books set in the 1930s–1950s Yorkshire Dales about veterinary practice, animals, and their owners, which began with If Only They Could Talk, first published in 1970. Over the decades, the series of books sold some 60 million copies.
The franchise based on his writings was very successful. In addition to the books, there have been several television and film adaptations of Wight's books, including the 1975 film All Creatures Great and Small and the BBC television series of the same name, which ran 90 episodes, and the 2020 series of the same name.
The new vet's first position, which he accepted in January 1940, was at a veterinary practice in Sunderland, working for J. J. McDowall. He decided that he would prefer a rural practice and accepted a position in July, based at 23 Kirkgate in Thirsk, Yorkshire, near the Yorkshire Dales and the North York Moors. The practice owner, Donald Sinclair, had enlisted in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and was soon to leave for training; he gave Wight all the practice's income in return for looking after it during his absence. (His brother, Brian Sinclair, was not yet a vet.) After Sinclair was discharged from the RAF four months later, he asked Wight to stay permanently with the practice, offering a salaried partnership which Wight accepted.
In Wight's will, his share of the practice passed to his son. He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1991 and was treated in the friar age Hospital in Northallerton. He died on 23 February 1995 at home in Thirlby at age 78, leaving an estate valued for probate at £5,425,873 (equivalent to £10,507,224 in 2019). His remains were cremated and scattered on Sutton Bank. His wife's health declined after his death, and she died on 14 July 1999.