The Compleat Angler (the spelling is sometimes modernised to The Complete Angler, though this spelling also occurs in first editions) is a book by Izaak Walton. It was first published in 1653 by Richard Marriot in London. 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.
Walton was born in Stafford and moved to London when he was in his teens in order to learn a trade. The Compleat Angler reflects the author´s connections with these two locations. The book was dedicated to John Offley of Madeley, Staffordshire, and there are references in it to fishing in the English Midlands. However, the work begins with Londoners making a fishing trip to the Lea Valley in Hertfordshire.
Walton was not sympathetic to the Puritan regime of the 1650s and the work has been seen as a reaction to the turbulence of the English Civil War and its aftermath; "the disorder of the present times received muted comment in the work's scenes of harmony", is the view of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
The Compleat Angler was published by the bookseller Richard Marriot whose business was based in Fleet Street near where Walton had a shop. Walton was a friend of Marriot's father John, who had started the business, but was in retirement by the time the book appeared.
The first edition featured dialogue between veteran angler Piscator and student Viator, while later editions change Viator to hunter Venator and added falconer Auceps.
There were a number of editions during the author's lifetime. 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.
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About the Author
Walton was born at Stafford in c. 1593. The register of his baptism in 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 1596/7[a] as 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.
Table of Contents
Note on the Text xxvi
Select Bibliography xxviii
A Chronology of Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton xxxii
The Compleat Angler, Part I Izaak Walton
The Epistle Dedicatory 3
Walton to the Reader 5
Commendatory Verses 9
Part I 17
The Compleat Angler, Part II Charles Cotton
Cotton's Epistle Dedicatory to Izaak Walton 169
Part II 171
Walton's Epistle to Cotton 223
The Retirement. Stanzes Irreguliers to Mr. Izaak Walton. 225
Explanatory Notes 231
Glossary of Angling Terms 283