ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Compleat Angler

Updated on March 2, 2016

The Compleat Angler or The Contemplative Man’s Recreation by Izaak Walton was first published in 1653 and after several new editions is still in print to this day. The work is regarded as the definitive commentary on the art and enjoyment of angling and was one of the first books in the English Language to be mass produced.


Izaak Walton was born in Stafford and was the son of an innkeeper. As an adult he settled in London where he traded as an ironmonger in the Parish of St Dunstans. He was a religious man and became churchwarden and a good friend and fishing companion of the vicar John Donne. Donne was a celebrated poet and could have inspired a taste for learning in Walton who was not a highly educated man but who developed an interest in reading and scholastic pursuits. Walton appears to have been accepted amongst the local literary circle and began to write himself.

Returning Home

Walton was a staunch loyalist and returned to Staffordshire during the Civil War in which the loyalists were defeated. He spent the rest of his life reading, writing, fishing and visiting eminent clergymen. He enthusiastically collected information for The Compleat Angler, his most celebrated work, which was first published in 1653 but which he updated with additions over the following 25 years. The book eventually grew from 13 chapters to 21 by the fifth edition in 1676.

The Book

The book is a collection of both prose and verse featuring anecdotes, literary quotes, and biblical references. It has advice on the art of fishing, cooking the fish, varieties of bait and making flies but is much more a celebration of the English countryside and the contemplative life than an instruction manual. The book follows the story of three friends (originally two) travelling the countryside and gives a valuable insight into the rural life of the time. Levity is brought to the work by the inclusion of songs and ballads and there are even recipes to follow.

The Modern Reader

The modern reader may find the original Elizabethan English and spelling difficult to navigate and the natural history somewhat naïve but there are updated versions of The Compleat Angler in modern English which make the work more readable. This is, however, at the sacrifice of some of the charm of the writing and the sense of the period in which it was written.

Good Advice

There is no doubt about the validity of Walton’s angling expertise or the efficacy of the advice proffered in the book which remains one of the most highly regarded texts amongst modern anglers. Walton was a passionate and skilled fisherman although he was not an expert in fly fishing and the guidance on the subject in the first edition was actually a contribution by retired cook Thomas Barker. Although providing expert advice and valuable information for fisherman, The Compleat Angler is possibly more valuable and enjoyable as a celebration of the English countryside, rural life and as a window on the intellectual thinking of the time.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)