HAPPY BIRTHDAY – James Herriot, born 3 October 1916
“I could do terrible things to people who dump unwanted animals by the roadside.”
He was born, Alfred Wight in the north of England, then grew up in Scotland. His favourite activities were to take his dog out into the hills or to watch football (his pseudonym James Herriot came from a player for the Sunderland Football Club). He trained as a vet in Scotland and was lucky to land a job in the Yorkshire Dales. There he worked hard and peacefully until his wife, annoyed at the number of times he had told her he could write up some of his veterinary anecdotes into a book, challenged him to actually do it. It took him a little while to find a publisher, but in 1969 If Only They Could Talk was published and soon he was the most famous vet in Britain. When the TV series was made, he became the most famous vet in the world and the numbers of applications at vet colleges soared. Due to a concern that writing his books might be seen as a form of advertising, Alf chose the pen name of James Herriot.
The James Herriot Centre at Kirkgate in Thirsk, Yorkshire, is a fabulous place to visit. It is the only museum in the UK to cover the history of vet science, it displays the car used in the TV series as well as some of the sets, and it gives a wonderful sense of life in that part of England just before WWII.
James Herriot died on 23 February 1995, aged 78.
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