James Herriot's World
Alf Wight started writing about his life after he had been married twenty-five years. So when his books first appeared in the 1970s, under the pen name of James Herriot, his stories were already thirty or forty years old. Yet readers fell so in love with his stories that they flocked to Yorkshire in England, to meet and talk with the man, or just for his autograph. I fell in love with his stories through the BBC TV show "All Creatures Great and Small." I loved the larger-than-life characters of Siegfried Farnon, his younger brother Tristan, and the dotty but lovable Mrs. Pumphreys. (Not to mention her beloved and long-suffering Pekinese, Tricky Woo). James Herriot became my entry point into another world, in which life seemed more quiet and slower paced, and yet the demands of everyday life demanded for constant ingenuity. After watching the show, I found reading his books an even greater delight, as the situations he penned sometimes differed from those onscreen.
When the opportunity to visit Yorkshire arose, exploring James Herriot's world--the region he fell in love with as a young veterinarian, and in which he decided to spend his life--seemed a natural choice. Even though another thirty-to-forty years had passed since he had written his books, and the TV show first aired, I yearned to visit his home town of Thirsk, the places he loved (such as Sutton Bank), and even the workshop of his friend, the furniture-maker affectionately known as the Mouseman. I even got to travel through the Yorkshire Dales National Park, where much of the filming took place for the TV show, and visit Askrigg, the rural English village the production team chose for his fictional Darrowby.
Through traveling to these places, I gained a glimpse into the world he inhabited. I could better understand the rhythms of his life, as well as what was important to him and why. If you're a newcomer to this blog, and missed out on my series of posts on this man and his writings, you can explore them all through the labels to your left. Below is a list of entries that have proven popular, or are representative of that journey. Enjoy.
Oh, and if you love his books, or the TV show based on his writings, and life grants you the opportunity to explore his world, I urge you to do so. In that case, perhaps these posts can serve as a starting point in planning your visit to Yorkshire, the area of England that he--and I--fell in love with.
A Suggested Sampling (Note: This is me being restrained).
Skeldale House is not the Tardis
James Herriot's TV House: Part 1
Where he and "Helen" married: James Herriot's Controversial Church
Sowerby (adjacent to Thirsk)
Mrs. Pumphrey's church?: St. Oswald's in Sowerby
James & Helen's 2nd Date: An Evening at Ritz Cinema: Part 3
James Herriot's TV House: Part 2
Astrigg Beyond James Herriot
Special Places for Alf Wight
Aysgarth Falls: James Herriot's Wonderful Waterfall
Sutton Bank: The Finest View in England
Special People in his life
Robert Thompson (The Mouseman): The Famous Woodworker of Kilburn
One example of how his stories inspire me
The Story of Herbert the Lamb