The Compleat Angler

Izaak Walton was, amongst other things, an author of great import.

His best known book, published on 9th May 1653, is, undoubtedly,

"The Compleat Angler", famous as the third most published book in the English language, next to the Bible and Shakespeare's historic works.

 It is arguably the most important book in Old-english prose style. There are more than 600 editions.

 First editions need a new mortgage to buy but copies of the book are available in modern editions or as antique copies to suit all pockets.

 A copy of the first edition of The Compleat Angler is displayed in the Mayor's appartments of Stafford Borough.

 The text, without illustrations, can be read at online books  

 Besides angling advice, the book expounds a philosophy for life which has value and relevance today.

 There is a great elegance to his writing style and his poems are worth reading, even though poetry is little favoured these days.

 Although much of the poetry is of a wonderful but rather philosophical nature, this humorous ditty (written remember in the mid sixteen-hundreds) is worth repeating :

 Man's life is but vane, for 'tis subject to pain

                And sorrow and short as a bubble;

                'Tis a hodgepodge of business and money and care,

                And care and money and trouble.

                But we'll take no care when the weather proves fair;

                Nor will we vex now, though it rain;

                We'll banish all sorrow and sing till tomorrow

                And angle and angle again.


This poem was set to music which is printed in "The Compleat Angler".

A first - as the printing of music had not been attempted before.

 In addition to the 38 poems, there are recipes on the cooking of fish and detailed advice on how to make "an angling rod" and other angling equipment and on the construction of a fish pond.

 Walton’s younger friend and fishing partner was Charles Cotton of Beresford Hall, Hartington, Derbyshire. Cotton was author of the last section which is devoted (in the full sense of the word) to fly-fishing, particularly on the River Dove. The Fishing Temple, still standing and built at Dovedale by Charles Cotton, carries their intertwined monograms.

 If you wish to read of Biographies written by Walton  Click Here.