Izaak Walton was a staffordshireman having been born in Stafford in 1593, son of an alehouse keeper. Though he lived in London for much of his life, he was well aquainted with Charles Cotton, from Beresford, which lies on the Staffordshire, Derbyshire border, and the two men spent a great deal of time fishing and strolling along the banks of the River Dove.
He is best remembered for writing the 'Compleat Angler' or the Contemplative Man's Recreation', which became and remains the greatest classic of angling literature and is a unique celebration of the English countryside. It became one of the most reprinted books in the history of English Literature with over 300 new reprints.
The Compleat Angler tells the story of 3 sportsmen, Auceps, the fowler, Venator the hunter and Piscator the fisherman, who compare their favourate pastimes whilst travelling through the English Countryside along the River Lea. The discourse is enlivened by songs, poems, country folklore, recipes anecdotes, moral meditation, quotes from the bible and classic literature, and lore about fishing and waterways. Charles Cotton wrote a second part to the 5th edition which is mainly concerned wth fly fishing.
The 2 men built a fishing temple which still stands on private ground on the bank on the River Dove in Beresford Dale.
Walton was also known for his biographies of several senior churchmen, the most well known being John Donne. Walton was married twice and upon the death of his second wife, he moved to Farnham Castle as a permanent guest of George Morley the Bishop of Winchester. He died in 1683 and is buried in the cathedral.
The Izaak Walton cottage in Shallowford, near Stone, stafford, is a museum dedicated to the man.
Ashbourne in Derbyshire is known as the gateway to Dovedale and Izaak Walton country. A popular hotel The Izaak Walton hotel is situated close to the southern enterance of Dovedale, the finest dale in Derbyshire, and Viator bridge in Milldale is named after a character in his book, The Compleat Angler.
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