James Herriot Analysis

Discussion Topics

How does James Herriot view the births and deaths of the animals with which he works?

What is Herriot’s attitude toward the eccentricities of many of the people he encounters in Yorkshire?

How does the interaction between Herriot, Siegfried, and Tristan provide comedy for Herriot’s books?

How does the comedy in Herriot’s books enable him to write about serious, often distressing, topics without alienating his readers?

What effect does the use of lines from an Anglican hymn as the titles of four of Herriot’s books have on the readers’ attitudes toward the books and the events in them?

Many critics say that the Yorkshire Dales themselves are central to the meaning and effect of Herriot’s books. Do you agree or disagree? Why?


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Brunsdale, Mitzi. James Herriot. New York: Twayne, 1997. A literary biography with an overview of critical response to Herriot’s work.

Rossi, Michael John. James Herriot: A Critical Companion. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1997. A study of Herriot’s work that emphasizes its status as biography, analyzing how Herriot formed the events of his life into narrative.

Sternlicht, Stanford. All Things Herriot: James Herriot and His Peaceable Kingdom. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1995. A study of Herriot’s influence on popular culture, with a thorough literary analysis of his plots and themes.

Wight, Jom. The Real James Herriot: A Memoir of My Father. New York: Ballantine, 2000. A biography of Herriot by his son, also a veterinarian.