Izaak Walton, (born August 9, 1593, Stafford, Staffordshire, England-died December 15, 1683, Winchester, Hampshire), English biographer and author of The Compleat Angler (1653), a pastoral discourse on the joys and stratagems of fishing that has been one of the most frequently reprinted books in English literature.
After a few years of schooling, Walton was apprenticed to a kinsman in the linendrapers' trade in London, where he acquired a small shop of his own and began to prosper. Despite his modest education he read widely, developed scholarly tastes, and associated with men of learning. Walton lived and worked close to St. Dunstan's Church, and he became active in parish affairs and a friend and fishing companion of the vicar, John Donne. Donne died in 1631, and, when his poems were published two years later, Walton composed "An Elegie" for the volume. In 1640 he wrote The Life and Death of Dr. Donne to accompany a collection of Donne's sermons. The Life was revised and enlarged in 1658.
Walton married in 1626, and his wife, Rachel, gave birth to seven children. None of the children survived past the age of three, however, and Rachel herself died in 1642. Five years later Walton married Anne Ken (the half-sister of Thomas Ken), with whom he had three children (one of whom died in infancy). During the English Civil Wars (1642-51), Walton was a staunch Royalist. After the Royalist defeat at Worcester in 1651, he took part in a successful adventure to preserve a jewel belonging to Charles II. He spent the remainder of his life reading, writing and editing, fishing, and visiting among the eminent clergymen who were his friends.
Venator. Sir, I, for my part, shall almost answer your hopes; for my purpose is to drink my morning's draught at the Thatched House in Hoddesden; and I think not to rest till I come thither, where I have appointed a friend or two to meet me: but for this gentleman that you see with me, I know not how far he intends his journey; he came so lately into my company, that I have scarce had time to ask him the question.
Auceps. Sir, I shall by your favour bear you company as far as Theobalds, and there leave you; for then I turn up to a friend's house, who mews a Hawk for me, which I now long to see.
Venator. Sir, we are all so happy as to have a fine, fresh, cool morning; and I hope we shall each be the happier in the others' company. And, Gentlemen, that I may not lose yours, I shall either abate or amend my pace to enjoy it, knowing that, as the Italians say, "Good company in a journey makes the way to seem the shorter".
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- Easton Press
- Easton Press (1976)
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