The Complete Angler.

By Izaak Walton & Charles Cotton

Printed: 1926

Publisher: John Lane. The Bodley Head. London

Edition: fifth edition

Dimensions 14 × 19 × 6 cm
Language

Language: English

Size (cminches): 14 x 19 x 6

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Description

Olive calf binding red title plates on the spine, Ornate gilt edging and emblem on both boards, embossed and gilt decoration on the spine. All edges gilt. Binding by Reviere & Son. Reprinted from fourth American edition

An incredible reproduction – a jewel

The Compleat Angler was first published in 1653, but Walton continued to add to it for a quarter of a century. It is a celebration of the art and spirit of fishing in prose and verse; 6 verses were quoted from John Dennys’s 1613 work The Secrets of Angling. It was dedicated to John Offkey, his most honoured friend. There was a second edition in 1655, a third in 1661 (identical with that of 1664), a fourth in 1668 and a fifth in 1676. In this last edition the thirteen chapters of the original had grown to twenty-one, and a second part was added by his friend and brother angler Charles Cotton, who took up Venator where Walton had left him and completed his instruction in fly fishing and the making of flies.

Walton did not profess to be an expert with a fishing fly; the fly fishing in his first edition was contributed by Thomas Barker, a retired cook and humorist, who published a treatise of his own, The Art of Angling in 1651; but in the use of the live worm, the grasshopper and the frog “Piscator” himself could speak as a master. The famous passage about the frog, often misquoted as being about the worm—”use him as though you loved him, that is, harm him as little as you may possibly, that he may live the longer”—appears in the original edition. The additions made as the work grew did not affect the technical part alone; quotations, new turns of phrase, songs, poems and anecdotes were introduced as if the author, who wrote it as a recreation, had kept it constantly in his mind and talked it over point by point with his many friends. There were originally only two interlocutors in the opening scene, “Piscator” and “Viator”; but in the second edition, as if in answer to an objection that “Piscator” had it too much in his own way in praise of angling, he introduced the falconer, “Auceps,” changed “Viator” into “Venator” and made the new companions each dilate on the joys of his favourite sport.

The best-known old edition of the Angler is J. Major’s (2nd ed., 1824). The book was edited by Andrew Lang in 1896, followed by many other editions.

Izaak Walton (baptised 21 September 1593 – 15 December 1683) was an English writer. Best known as the author of The Compleat Angler, he also wrote a number of short biographies including one of his friend John Donne. They have been collected under the title of Walton’s Lives.

Walton was born at Stafford in c. 1593. The register of his baptism on 21 September 1593 gives his father’s name as Jervis, or Gervase. His father, who was an innkeeper as well as a landlord of a tavern, died before Izaak was three, being buried in February 1596/7as Jarvicus Walton. His mother then married another innkeeper by the name of Bourne, who later ran the Swan in Stafford. Izaak also had a brother named Ambrose, as indicated by an entry in the parish register recording the burial in March 1595/6 of an Ambrosius filius Jervis Walton.

His date of birth is traditionally given as 9 August 1593. However, this date is based on a misinterpretation of his will, which he began on 9 August 1683.

He is believed to have been educated in Stafford before moving to London in his teens. He is often described as an ironmonger, but he trained as a linen draper, a trade which came under the Ironmongers’ Company. He had a small shop in the upper storey of Thomas Gresham’s Royal Burse or Exchange in Cornhill. In 1614 he had a shop in Fleet Street, two doors west of Chancery Lane in the parish of St Dunstan’s. He became verger and churchwarden of the church, and a friend of the vicar, John Donne. He joined the Ironmongers’ Company in November 1618. Walton’s first wife was Rachel Floud (married December 1626), a great-great-niece of Archbishop Cranmer. She died in 1640. He soon remarried, to Anne Ken (m. 1641?-1662), who appears as the pastoral Kenna of The Angler’s Wish; she was a stepsister of Thomas Ken, afterwards bishop of Bath and Wells.

After the Royalist defeat at Marston Moor in 1644, Walton retired from his trade. He went to live just north of his birthplace, at a spot between the towns of Stafford and Stone, where he had bought some land edged by a small river. His new land at Shallowford included a farm, and a parcel of land; however, by 1650 he was living in Clerkenwell, London. Following the Restoration of the Monarchy it was revealed he had aided the Royalists, Izaak was a staunch Royalist supporter, and at great personal risk he managed to safeguard one of the Crown Jewels (referred to as the Little or Lesser George) following Charles II’s defeat at the battle of Worcester. Walton was entrusted with returning it to London from where it was smuggled out of the country to Charles II who was then in exile.

The first edition of his book The Compleat Angler was published in 1653. His second wife died in 1662, and was buried in Worcester Cathedral, where there is a monument to her memory. One of his daughters married Dr Hawkins, a prebendary of Winchester.

The last forty years of his life were spent visiting eminent clergymen and others who enjoyed fishing, compiling the biographies of people he liked, and collecting information for the Compleat Angler. After 1662 he found a home at Farnham Castle with George Morley, Bishop of Winchester, to whom he dedicated his Life of George Herbert and his biography of Richard Hooker. He sometimes visited Charles Cotton in his fishing house on the Dove.

Walton died, aged 90, in his daughter’s house at Winchester on 15 December 1683 and was buried in Winchester Cathedral.

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