Originally known as James Alfred Wight, Herriot began his career as a veterinarian in 1940. That same year he began a three year stint in the Royal Air Force, returning in 1942 to continue providing care to animals, mainly cattle and work horses. In 1966, at the urging of his wife Joan, Herriot attempted to write a number of different books pertaining to football (soccer), but none received any interest from publishers. In 1969 he decided to turn his attention to writing about his life as a veterinarian. The next year, his semi-autobiographical book All Things Great and Small was published and became a success in both the U.K. and the U.S. He took the pen name James Herriot due to the fact veterinarians were not allowed to advertise their services in Britain at the time. His works were mainly a collection of connected short stories that painted a picture of everyday life in England while using animals and veterinary care as a focal point. He would go on to write six more books and have his work adopted for film and television.