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On this day in history in 1683, died Isaak Walton.
Walton was a biographer and angler, who wrote The Compleat Angler, a text which became the most frequently reprinted volume.
Isaak Walton was born on 9th August 1593, at Stafford, the son of Jervis Walton. After a modest education, he was apprenticed to a London ironmonger and eventually started his own business in Fleet Street. Despite his lack of education, he read widely and became associated with men of learning, including John Donne, his fishing companion. When Donne died in 1631, he wrote The Life and Death of Dr. Donne, to accompany a collection of Donne's sermons.
During the Civil War, Walton sold his business and retired to his native Staffordshire, where he bought land and indulged in gentle country pursuits, particularly fishing. After the Royalist defeat at Worcester in 1651, he became embroiled in an adventure to preserve property and jewellery belonging to Charles II. In 1653, he published the first edition of his famous book, The Compleat Angler, a pastoral discourse on the pleasures and stratagems of fishing, which subsequently became the most frequently reprinted book in English literature. He enlarged the book in 4 succeeding editions, published in his lifetime. The book deals with 3 characters, the hunter, the fowler and the fisherman, who compare their favourite pastimes, while travelling by the riverbank. The discourse is refreshed by verses, songs, anecdotes and Biblical analogies, which intersperse the advice proffered to the amateur angler.
Upon the Restoration of Charles II, one of Walton's Royalist friends, George Morley, was appointed bishop of Winchester and offered Walton residence in Farnham Castle, in recognition of his services in preserving royal property. He spent the rest of his days fishing by the riverbank, and revising his great work. He died on 15th December 1683, at his daughter’s house in Winchester and is buried in the cathedral. [Winchester Cathedral, Winchester, Hampshire, SO23 0HJ]. The Izaak Walton Hotel, a hostelry named in his honour, can be found by the River Dove. [Izaak Walton Hotel, Ilam, Ashbourne, Derbyshire DE6 2AY]
Walton, Izaak. The Compleat Angler. Oxford World Classics
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