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Derry Brabbs
Walnut Tree

James Herriot
The Life of a Country Vet


1997 - Headline - UK hardback
1997 - Carroll & Graf - US hardback
1997 - Audio Renaissance - Abridged US audio read by Paul Michael
1998 - Headline - UK paperback
1998 - Carroll & Graf - US paperdback
1998 - Chivers Press - UK large-print hardback & paperback
1998 - Thorndike Press - US large-print hardback
1998 - Walnut Tree Publishing, Taiwan - Chinese edition
1998 - Isis - Unabridged UK audio read by Bruce Alexander

“Fascinating…a pragmatic, often critical appraisal…written with affection, and I challenge you to read it without humming that wonderful Sunday night theme tune” – Andrew Morrod, Daily Mail

“If you have enjoyed the stories of a Yorkshire vet over the years — and who hasn’t? — you will lap up this biography…an affectionate, very readable portrait” – Manchester Evening News

“Graham Lord…must be given straight As” – R. W. F. Poole, Sunday Telegraph

“The millions of worldwide fans of vet James Herriot will devour this excellent biography with glee. Lord…combines skill and obvious affection to unwrap the myth and the man and reveal a raft of new information about him” – Peter Hannam, Eastern Daily Press

“A feast for the Herriot hordes” –Kirkus Reviews

“A warm, candid portrait of one of the most beloved authors in recent times…entertaining and poignant…highly recommended” – Library Journal

James Herriot, the quiet, modest Scottish vet who wrote books that became bestsellers all over the world and were turned into two films and a much-loved television series, died in 1995 at the age of 78. He was mourned by millions of fans who had laughed and cried at his delightful stories of life as a vet in North Yorkshire.

Yet Herriot, whose real name was Alf Wight – he borrowed his pen-name from a Birmingham City soccer goalkeeper – did not have his first book published until he was 53, and it was only with his second book,
It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet, that he started to become famous. He always attributed that first success to Graham Lord’s glowing review in the Sunday Express in 1972 and wrote to Lord to thank him for giving him a boost that he would never forget. His daughter Rosie said that “he always remarked later that it was that review which gave him an invaluable first boost.”

And he never did forget it. Despite achieving enormous fame, he always made time for interviews with Lord and they kept in touch right up to the month before Alf died.

Lord’s book, which became a major bestseller, is a detailed and affectionate biography of a remarkable man whose charm and modesty remained unchanged by phenomenal success and adulation. Alf wrote amazingly little about his parents, his poor childhood in a crowded Glasgow tenement or his schooldays, but Lord describes them all in vivid detail – even Alf’s school and veterinary college reports – after interviewing friends of Alf’s from his earliest days in Glasgow up to the end in Thirsk in Yorkshire, where he worked for over 50 years with his partner Donald Sinclair, whom he called “Siegfried” in his books. Lord has also uncovered some extraordinary details and hidden tragedies in Alf’s life and he asks a series of pertinent questions. How much of the Herriot books was true? How much was fiction? And what was his real relationship with “Siegfried”?

This warm but incisive portrait will not only be enjoyed by James Herriot’s countless admirers but will also dispel at last many of the myths that have already grown up around the life of the most famous and deeply loved vet the world has known.