All Creatures Great and Small is a book series by James Alfred Wight under the pen name James Herriot focusing on his adventures as a veterinary surgeon in the Yorkshire Dales, in the fictional town of Darrowby, based on a combination of Thirsk, Richmond, Leyburn and Middleham.
Herriot works with fellow veterinary surgeons Siegfried and Tristan Farnon, based on real-life counterparts, Donald Sinclair and his brother Brian Sinclair respectively.
How to read the All Creatures Great and Small Series in Order?
- If Only They Could Talk – To young James Herriot, fresh out of veterinary college, Yorkshire appears to offer an idyllic pocket of rural life in a rapidly changing world. But even life in the sleepy village of Darrowby has its challenges: from his new colleagues, brothers Siegfried and Tristan Farnon, to herds of semi-feral cattle and gruff farmers with incomprehensible accents.
- It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet – Recently qualified vet James Herriot is firmly ensconced in the sleepy Yorkshire village of Darrowby, and acclimatized to life with his unpredictable colleagues. But veterinary practice in the 1930s was never going to be easy, and there are challenges on the horizon, from persuading his clients to let him use his ‘modern’ equipment, to becoming an uncle to a pig called Nugent. Throw in his first encounters with Helen, the beautiful daughter of a local farmer, and this year looks to be as eventful as the last.
In the US, those two volumes (1 & 2) have been published together under the title All Creatures Great and Small.
- Let Sleeping Vets Lie – With two years of experience behind him, James Herriot still feels privileged working on the beautiful Yorkshire moors as an assistant vet at the Darrowby practice. Time to meet yet more unwilling patients and a rich cast of supporting owners.
- Vet in Harness – The Yorkshire dales have never seemed more beautiful for James – now he has a lovely wife by his side, a partner’s plate on the gate, and the usual menagerie of farm animals, pets, and owners demanding his constant attention and teaching him a few lessons along the way.
In the US, those two volumes (2 & 3) have been published together under the title All Things Bright and Beautiful.
- Vets Might Fly – A few months of married bliss, a lovers’ nest in Darrowby and the wonders of home cooking are rudely interrupted for James Herriot by the Second World War. James Herriot is relocated to a training camp somewhere in England. And in between square pounding and digging for victory, he dreams of the people and livestock he left behind him.
- Vet in a Spin – James Herriot, strapped into the cockpit of a Tiger Moth trainer, feels rather out of place, but he hasn’t found a new profession and it surely won’t be long before the RAF come round to his point of view…
In the US, those two volumes (4 &5) have been published together under the title All Things Wise and Wonderful.
- The Lord God Made Them All – Finally home from London after his wartime service in the RAF, James Herriot is settling back into life as a country vet. While the world has changed after the war, the blunt Yorkshire clients and menagerie of beasts with weird and wonderful ailments remain the same. But between his young son, Jimmy, trailing him around aping his every move, stubborn farmers refusing to try his ‘new-fangled’ treatments and a goat that has eaten 293 tomatoes, Darrowby is far from quiet. And with another baby on the way, life is about to get even more chaotic…
- Every Living Thing – During his decades spent as a country vet in Yorkshire, James Herriot has seen huge advances in medical science, technological leaps, and a world irrevocably changed by war. Yet some things have always stayed the same – gruff farmers, hypochondriac pet owners, and animals that never do quite what you expect them to.
If you like our article about the All Creatures Great and Small reading order, don’t forget to bookmark it! You may also like to check out P.G. Wodehouse’s books, Anne of Green Gables, Jack Sheffield’s Teacher series…