Donald Sinclair (veterinary surgeon)

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Donald Vaughan Sinclair (22 April 1911 - June 28 1995) was a British veterinary surgeon made famous as the eccentric character Siegfried Farnon in the semi-autobiographical books of James Herriot (Alf Wight), later adapted for film and television as All Creatures Great and Small.

In 1939 he bought 23 Kirkgate, Thirsk, Yorkshire, and in 1940 interviewed Wight for the position of assistant. When Wight's first book was published, Donald was apparently most offended by his portrayal saying 'Alfred, this book is a real test of our friendship'; he never called Wight 'Alf'.

Things calmed down, however, and the pair continued to work together until they retired. Opinion is divided as to whether Sinclair was as eccentric in reality as Siegfried was portrayed in the books, but it seems likely that even if his character was exaggerated, he was unique. Sinclair always refused to accept he was eccentric but former clients and colleagues have stated that his character in the novels was considerably toned down.

Sinclair took his own life by an overdose of barbiturate[1] on June 28, 1995 at his home Southwoods Hall, near Thirsk, two weeks after the death of his wife Audrey (nee Adamson), to whom he had been married for over fifty years. His brother Brian ('Tristan' in the books) had died several years earlier, and his friend and partner, Alf Wight, only four months previously.


  1. The Real James Herriot: A Memoir of My Father by Jim Herriot, New York, Ballantine Books (2001), ISBN-10: 0345434900ISBN

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