All Creatures Great and Small book is a franchise written by James Herriot and it is so loved by the readers that it has also been adapted to screen several times, also having won the New York best seller award. Although they were written and published in the late 1970s, they have sold 60 million copies by 2020 as recorded. That might give you an idea of how loved these books are till now. The reason that they are so loved is that they are quite realistic. These books take us on a journey of love and tragedy in the life of animals that Herriot came across in his journey. James himself was a veterinarian, and a lot of times in his books, he documented his own experiences.
So if you are searching for new books to add to your reading list, we suggest that you add this entire franchise. The books will take you to a different world, a pastoral world, where you have never been before, in the old countryside of England. Of course, you can always watch the long-running series based on it but we recommend you to read these books. It is only because the imagery and the storytelling are so magnificent that they will make you feel like a child playing in the lazy afternoons of the countryside.
We are so sure you would love these books that we have also noted below other books by James Herriot along with their links. These are books that can be read by a person of any age. The language is so simple that it is easy for even kids to understand and the narratives are refreshingly straightforward, so you can read it for leisure. These can even be used to tell bedtime stories to your kids.
Now that we are sure you are motivated enough to read these books, you will have to buy them. But we will help you buy these too, on your go-to online shopping platform, Amazon.
All creatures big and small on Amazon
As we already told you, this franchise has multiple books in it. So, we searched Amazon and can now recommend to you the ones that were of the lowest price and worth their price too.
So in the US, five volumes were published under this franchise. Initially, there were eight books written under this title, and in the UK, they were all published as it is. But the publishers in the US felt that the length of the books was too little, so they combined some to form volumes.
- All Creatures Great and Small (If Only They could talk and It shouldn’t happen to a vet)- In brackets are the names of the books as they were originally written. If you want, you can buy them separately as the UK version, or together, as the US version. But here, we will discuss the US versions. In this book, Herriot begins his journey as a young veterinarian in Yorkshire Dale. He describes working under Siegfried Farnon, the town vet, experiencing firsthand the mundane life in a small English town, and his own experiences as a vet, like helping a cow delivering a calf.
This is also available as a Kindle edition for $9.99. Separately, its paperback version is available for $10.99. This book is reviewed quite well on both Amazon and Goodbooks. Some readers even proceed to say that this book is Herriot’s best work. The reason might be because in this, along with the reader, the narrator is also starting to explore country life. He is just as much of a stranger to a Yorkshire village as the reader.
- All things bright and beautiful (Let sleeping Vets Lie and Vet in Harness)- Again, here too, the original books are given in brackets. This volume was named after the hymn “All things Bright and Beautiful”. In this volume, we find that Herriot is married (as he was in the first volume) and he has settled in the Darrowby village. He even faces an option to leave Darrowby forever. This, as all of Herriot’s books, is “charming, heartwarming and laugh-out-loud funny” said Kate Humble, the famous English TV presenter. To read it on kindle, you could pay $6.94 or if you like the feel of paper while reading, you could buy a paperback version for $10.89.
- All things wise and wonderful (Vets might fly and Vet in a Spin)- In this volume, we find Herriot enlisted in the Royal Air Force (RAF). Here, we come to see his love for the countryside. He finds the training for the RAF quite hard and often remembers his pastoral life at Darrowby. The entire book is full of either description of his life in the RAF or his memory of Darrowby and his wife Helen. This enables the reader to reminisce about the old English countryside, even if he is not from England.
You can find its kindle edition for $11.99, its paperback edition for $14.99, and its hardcover edition for $12.99. Readers find this book the most different out of the entire franchise. The tone and setting of the entire narrative change and there is much more description of navy and modern life than the memories of the pastoral past. It is as if a modern man is reminiscing about his pastoral past. This makes it a little similar to a modernist novel, unlike others.
- The Lord God made them All- This and the fifth book are the two books that were published in the US as they were, rather than as volumes. This is set when the author, that is, Herriot, returns from the RAF. From the beginning itself, we notice the change in tone if we already read the third volume. The setting changes back to that of the warm lazy village. We again get to read about the vet’s experiences with animals, the funny and at times, sad incidents that would occur only in a small English village, and now, Herriot’s family life too.
This, like the other books, is available on Kindle for $9.99, as a paperback edition for $10.58, and as the hardcover edition for $42.05. This book is maybe the second most loved book of the franchise(following the first book). Here, we see the narrator’s true love for the country. Now, instead of exploring the village, we, along with the narrator, become a part of it.
- Every living thing- This is the final book of this franchise. It was also published 20 years after the first four parts. That’s the reason even many fans of Herriot’s works aren’t aware of it. However, the ones who do know about it have a bittersweet relation with it. As a user named Manybooks wrote on Goodreads, this is a “somewhat saddening and sobering conclusion to the All creatures great and small series”. This book, like the others, shows Herriot’s love for the countryside. For lovers of the franchise, it marks sort of an emotional end, especially because just a few years after its publication in 1995, the author died of prostate cancer. But like all good things, it had to come to an end. You can purchase it on Kindle for $9.99. As a paperback edition, it’s available for $12.60 and as a hardcover edition, it’s available for $13.5.
This is not all. There are also some collections available. As we are here to make your search easier, we will provide the links now.
https://www.amazon.com/James-Herriots-Book-Set-Creatures/dp/0131154516 – This collection comprises the US volumes of the franchise. Each book in this collection is published by a different publisher. Its price is $71.95 and it’s reviewed with a whopping 5-star rating by 67 buyers.
https://www.amazon.com/COMPLETE-JAMES-HERRIOT-Box-Set/dp/0330447262 – This paperback collection has all eight books. If you remember, the UK edition of the franchise had the franchise published as it were, divided into 8 books. This is for $57.17 and has a great rating of 4.7 stars, by 1277 buyers.
Are these books autobiographical?
As is quite famous about these books, they are believed to be autobiographical and hence, based on the real-life of the author. So, for those of you who don’t know, James Herriot was a pen name for James Alfred Wight. Yes, he was a veterinarian and yes, he practiced in Yorkshire Dale sometime from the 1930s to 1950s. As he said, he wrote his own experiences in these books. But to what extent he has used accuracy in describing these experiences is clear only once you read them yourself. These books are realistic and all, but a lot of events noted are stretched out a little. The probable reason might be to make them funny. It would be better to say that the franchise is semi-autobiographical.
Whatever and however it is, reading these books is the best feeling in the world. You will instantly time travel to a land far away. It is almost outlandish. We find it outlandish not because the stories seem fictional but because the description of the village is so cozy and sunny that in our times, it is difficult to believe, but at least the books make it easy to imagine.
Film and television adaptations of All things great and small-
As you must know by now, we are obsessed with the description of life in the countryside in these books. When you will read these, we are very sure that you will fall in love too. They have that effect on their readers. That is why they have now been adapted to the big and small screen several times. Some readers like these adaptions while others find the books more charming. Here, we have compiled all the versions of it available-
- All creatures great and small, the movie- This movie came out in 1975. This was the first time that it was adapted to a screen. This was based on the first part of the five-part franchise. The critical reception it received was very mixed. While some liked it a lot, some thought that it failed to give some depth to the story.
It featured famous actors like Anthony Perkins, Simon Howard, and Lisa Harrow. It was also followed by a sequel in 1976, It Shouldn’t Happen to a Vet. This starred John Alderton and Colin Blakely in the lead roles. This film was liked by most people, even entering the 10th Moscow International Film Festival.
- All creatures great and small, BBC tv series- This is the television version of this franchise that is the most well known and loved. It was ninety episodes long and was broadcasted on TV from 1978-1980 and 1988-1990. The reason it is so loved is perhaps that it sticking to the essence of the book. Herriot was mostly present on the set for most of the shooting and often held gatherings for the crew and cast where he used to give his ideas for production.
This series stars Christopher Timothy as James, Robert Hardy as Siegfried Farnon, and Peter Davidson as Farnon’s little brother. Helen, Herriot’s wife’s role was played by two actresses. Initially, in the first airing, Carol Drinkwater played it while in the second one, it was played by Lynda Bellingham.
- The stage production, Gala Theatre, Durham- Like all of the above, this stage production was performed in England too, Durham to be specific. It was quite well-liked by the audience and the critics. It was performed quite recently, in 2010 itself. The critical response was just as positive as the audience’s response. You might find a recording of the play online.
- All creatures great and Small, Playground Entertainment production- This is the latest version of its adaptation, having been premiered just in September 2020. It was premiered both in the UK and the US, on Channel 5 and PBS respectively. It was six episodes plus one Christmas special long and it was loved by the viewers. It is now renewed for a sequel season, also of six episodes and a Christmas special. It stars Samuel West and Anna Madeley in the lead roles.
Other books by Herriot you can read-
We are sure we have intrigued you enough. We won’t leave you halfway now. Although the franchise is very refreshing, it is quite short, and you will not take much time in finishing it. That’s why we will here list Herriot’s other books which are not as famous but are just as good to read.
- James Herriot’s Dog stories- This is a collection of 50 short stories by different authors. The one common thing in all these stories is that they are all about dogs and their beautiful relationship to humans. In this, Herriot also tells the reader about his dogs. The introduction and notes are written by Herriot himself and they complete the book in a way, binding all the stories, by different writers like DH Lawrence, Gerald Durrell, Sheila Burnford, Jack London, O. Henry, into a heartwarming anthology. On Amazon, it is available for $15.69 at https://www.amazon.com/James-Herriots-Dog-Stories-Wonderful/dp/125006189X.
- Treasury for Children- This book is a collection of tales by Herriot himself which are meant for kids especially, although you can read it too. It is, as described by previous buyers and readers, very cozy to read and can be used to tell your kids bedtime stories. It will take the children to a magical world where animals and humans live harmoniously. It is available on Amazon for $13.90 at https://www.amazon.com/James-Herriots-Treasury-Children-Creatures/dp/1427205248.
- James Herriot’s Yorkshire Revisited- This is a book with a lot of colorful pictures of Herriot in the countryside. It is not a narrative so to say. Rather, it is an essay that will instill in you a desire to go and stay in the sunny lazy old English countryside. According to some readers, it can be thought of as an introduction to Herriot’s main work, that is, All things great and small. It will give you an insight into Herriot’s true love for the Yorkshire village he lived in. You can buy it online for $6.74 at the link https://www.amazon.com/James-Herriots-Yorkshire-Revisited-Herriot/dp/0312206291.
- James Herriot’s Cat Stories- As the name might tell already, this is a collection of stories of cats. This, again, like the Dog stories, tells of cats’ beautiful relationship with humans. It is just as heart-warming as all his other works, including stories of Buster the kitten who arrived on Christmas, or Alfred the cat at the sweet shop. As readers say, it is quite a great book to gift your loved ones. It can be read by you or your kids. It’s also illustrated brightly by Lesley Holmes. You can find it on Amazon for $15.99 if you want the hardcover edition. Other than that, you can also find its audiobook version there, or the paperback edition for $27. The link for it is https://www.amazon.com/story-Herriot-Heriot-Shueisha-Bunko/dp/4087604055.
- James Herriot’s Animal Stories- This book, again like the All creatures great and small franchise, is semi-autobiographical. In this, Herriot writes his own loving and sometimes sad experiences while treating animals, or while simply interacting with them. The introduction to this book is written by James’ son Jim Wight. To someone who has been reading James Herriot for a while, it might feel nostalgic. It, like Cat Stories, also includes bright watercolor illustrations by Lesley Holmes. It is also available on Amazon for $18.99 as the hardcover edition. If you are a member of Audible, you will also find an audiobook for free. The link to it is https://www.amazon.com/James-Herriots-Animal-Stories-Herriot/dp/1250059356.
- Other books- All of the books which we noted above are books that both you and your kid can enjoy reading. But besides these books, there are quite a few books James Herriot wrote for very little children, those around the age of preschoolers. They are still taught in American preschools. These are books like “Smudge, the little lost lamb”, “Moses the kitten”, “Bonny’s big day”, “Only one woof”, “The market Square dog”, “Oscar, Cat about town” etc. They are all available on Amazon. As you might have guessed by now, they are all about animals. These books, as canonical children’s books, are quite excellent. The reviews on Amazon and Goodreads for these are really good too. So if you are looking for some books for your kid, we recommend these. All are illustrated with colorful paintings by Ruth Brown.
James Herriot’s books are such books that you will feel the best reading when it’s raining outside and you are in the warmth of your couch, sipping on hot cocoa and wrapped in a blanket. We love James Herriot’s writing style and strongly recommend his works to you. It is such that you don’t need to be a literature buff to understand it. The symbolism and narrative are straightforward.
It is especially a good recommendation if you are thinking of just taking up reading as a hobby and can’t seem to find books to your liking. Or maybe you already do read a lot but are looking to take a break from those sophisticated and complex John Milton and Toni Morrison books. In that case, too, you will love these books. Otherwise, these are also great books to gift your loved ones. After all, they are so lovely and cozy that surely, whenever your friend reads them, they will be reminded of the moment you gifted those to them. Other than that, these books, as we have already mentioned, are great for kids and can make for really good Christmas gifts and bedtime stories.
Finally, we hope you read the books but we would understand if you prefer the visual medium. Maybe you don’t have the time, or maybe you just simply prefer series and films. We suggest that you watch the 1978 BBC version before watching any other. It is loved and if you don’t read the books, this is the closest thing to those books you might ever come across. The portrayal of Herriot and his life is beautiful in it and it is Herriot-approved too. That means that Herriot himself overlooked the making of this series. That is why maybe, it is so authentic to the books and the author. On this last note, we hope you love Herriot’s works as much as we did and also that this article helps you purchase those books that you want.