Alf Wight, a modest Scottish writer, better known as James Herriot, wrote books that became worldwide best sellers, films, audiobooks, and a much-loved television show. In The Life of a Country Vet, Graham Lord has written a detailed and affectionate biography of this remarkable man. Lord carefully documents Wight's life, beginning with his childhood in Glasgow and his years in veterinary college. Following his development as a writer, the source of his pen name, and his struggles to get published. Along the way, we encounter some extraordinary events and hidden tragedies in this seemingly magical life. Millions of fans laughed and cried at Wight's delightful stories of life as a vet. Lord reveals that some of the stories were utterly true, and some were utterly fictional. He illuminates the real relationships between the memorable characters that inhabit the books. This warm yet insightful portrait by Lord - who knew his subject very well - will be enjoyed by Wight's myriad of fans. It also dispels the myths that have grown around the life of one of the most famous and deeply loved vets the world has known.
Herriot (1916-1995), who became a celebrity with his stories of life as a country vet, was born James Alfred (Alf) Wight, a Scotsman who grew up in poverty in Glasgow. A self-effacing man, he once remarked, "I make myself as colourless as possible." Because of this, and the fact that he fictionalized his life as well as his books, he remains a mystery even in this candid biography by a long-time friend. Since Wight never discussed his early years, Lord (Ghosts of King Solomon's Mines) fills in his background with descriptions of working-class life in Glasgow in the 1920s and '30s and of Wight's alma mater, Glasgow Veterinary College. To understand his professional and personal relationships, especially with his wife, Joan, and with Donald Sinclair, the owner of the Yorkshire veterinary clinic where Wight practiced for more than 50 years, Lord relies on the observations of Wight's friends and acquaintances. Wight comes across as likable but elusive, a thoroughly professional writer who persisted until, in middle age, he succeeded in getting published and then learned to tailor his books to the market. Photos.