All Creatures Great and Small is a compilation of short stories written by James Alfred ‘Alf’ Wight, also known by the pen name James Herriot. He was a British veterinary surgeon who used his extensive knowledge and experience to write short stories about various persons and their pets. All Creatures Great and Small is partially autobiographical and has been adapted to film and television.
Many of the stories, despite mainly occurring in the 1930s to 1950s, were loosely based on real events and people from the 1960s and 1970s. His stories documented a period of change for the veterinary industry, with many ancient treatments being obliterated and new drugs being discovered and put into use.
The 20th century was also a period of where society was more well-to-do and many more people could afford to keep animals as pets instead of beasts of burden. This increase in disposable income in society led to veterinarians shifting focus from working with beasts of burdens to pets such as cats and dogs.
Wight’s stories mainly center on country life, mainly the life of a country veterinarian. A significant part of his stories are about his observations about the relationship between man and beast in the country.