The Compleat Angler. Or, The Contemplative Man's Recreation. Being a Discourse of Rivers, Fishponds, Fish and Fishing not unworthy the Perusal of most Anglers - Izaak Walton, Arthur Rackham (illustrator) 1931 - George C. Harrap and Co., London - First Thus, Illustrated by Arthur Rackham ‘It breathes the very spirit of innocence, purity, and simplicity of the heart. There are many choice old verses interspersed in it; it would sweeten a man's temper at any time to read it’ – Charles Lamb on The Compleat Angler, in his letter to Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

A fine copy of Walton’s beloved celebration of the spirit of fishing, wonderfully illustrated by Arthur Rackham with 12 full page colour plates, including frontispiece, together with several other black and white in-text illustrations.
  The Compleat Angler was first published in 1653, but 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. By the fifth edition of 1676 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. As of 2014, The Compleat Angler is the third most published book running to almost 300 editions, only topped by the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare.

Izaak Walton (1593-1683) was the son of a Stafford alehouse keeper. We know little of his early life but around 1611, he was apprenticed to Thomas Grinsell, of the Ironmonger’s Company. Walton completed his apprenticeship in 1617 and by 1624 had his own business a linen draper’s shop in Fleet, Street, London. In 1636, he married Rachel Flood and they had seven children. Rachel died in 1640, preceded by six of their children. The seventh child died two years later. Izaak married again in 1647 to Anne Ken and they had three children, two of whom lived into their sixties. After acquiring the draper’s shop, Walton held several public posts in his parish of St Dunstan’s in the West and became a senior member of the Ironmongers Company.

Whilst Izaak Walton was born of fairly humble origins, he had friends and contemporaries of social distinction. His first book was published in 1640 and was a biography of John Donne, the churchman and poet. In May 1963,
The Compleat Angler or The Contemplative Man’s Recreation was published, it was re-issued four times during his life and the final edition in 1676 included a supplement on fly fishing written by his very close friend, Charles Cotton. Walton and Cotton spent many hours together, fishing on the River Dove.

Walton’s wealth increased during his lifetime, and he bought Halfhead Farm at Shallowford, where the Izaak Walton Cottage stands today. Walton never lived in the cottage but rented it out. Today, the cottage is a museum where the life and times of Izaak Walton is depicted. The museum also contains many items relating to the history of angling. Izaak Walton died at the age of 90 and is buried in Winchester Cathedral.

Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), English illustrator and water-colourist. One of the foremost and most productive of the Edwardian illustrators, with a preference for illustrating books of a mystical, magic or legendary background. Aided by advances in colour printing at the beginning of the 20th century, his imaginative eye saw all forms with the eyes of childhood and created a world that was half reassuring and half frightening, whilst adding a delightfully humorous flourish to many of his illustrations, although he can descend into darker depths as seen for Wagner and Edgar Allen Poe.

References: House,
Dictionary of British Book Illustrators and Caricaturists 424. Coigney, Izaak Walton A New Bibliography 127. Oxford University Press. BBC Radio 4. Oliver, A new chronicle of The Compleat Angler, 275.
Large 8vo. pp. 224 [2].
  Bound in recent dark blue morocco with gilt titles and decorative fish to spine, over original blue boards, with decorative titles and fish motif in gilt to upper cover, top edge gilt, original pictorial endpapers bound into front.   Condition: Fine in fine binding.   Ref: 107682   Price: HK$ 4,900