The Compleat Angler
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Walton was born in Stafford and moved to London when he was in his teens in order to learn a trade. The Compleat Angler reflects the author´s connections with these two locations. The book was dedicated to John Offley of Madeley, Staffordshire, and there are references in it to fishing in the English Midlands. However, the work begins with Londoners making a fishing trip to the Lea Valley in Hertfordshire.
Walton was not sympathetic to the Puritan regime of the 1650s and the work has been seen as a reaction to the turbulence of the English Civil War and its aftermath; "the disorder of the present times received muted comment in the work's scenes of harmony", is the view of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
The Compleat Angler was published by the bookseller Richard Marriot whose business was based in Fleet Street near where Walton had a shop. Walton was a friend of Marriot's father John, who had started the business, but was in retirement by the time the book appeared.
The first edition featured dialogue between veteran angler Piscator and student Viator, while later editions change Viator to hunter Venator and added falconer Auceps.
There were a number of editions during the author's lifetime. There was a second edition in 1655, a third in 1661 (identical with that of 1664), a fourth in 1668, and a fifth in 1676. In this last edition, 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.