Not only were the two authors connected by The Compleat Angler but both were born in Staffordshire, were long-time family friends and, as legend has it, fished together as often as they could. Cotton even built a large Fishing House - dedicated to Walton - on the banks of his stretch of the River Dove where he lived.

Parts One & Two


Izaak-walton-portrait-the compleat-angler part one

“Angling is the only sport that boasts the honour of having given a classic to literature. Izaak Walton's success with The Compleat Angler has given him a secure place in the Pantheon of letters.”
Henry Van Dyke, Fisherman's Luck (1899)


“Old Izaak himself is as easy to read as today's paper, but his predecessors are like the meat in the less accessible parts of the lobster. It's there if you want to dig for it, but unless you're practically starved; it's hardly worth the trouble.”
Arnold Gingrich, The Fishing In Print (1975)


“The work for which Izaak Walton is best known, The Compleat Angler, or the Contemplative Man's Recreation first appeared in 1653, but he continued to revise and add to it until 1676. The book has been criticized on technicalities by knowledgeable fishermen, but while Walton fished as a leisure pursuit, he cheerfully acknowledged that ... fishing was a recreation, as was writing: he did both for his own pleasure. The book - discursive, rambling and whimsical - has over the years endeared itself to many who have never fished at all.”


“In the 303 years since it was published, Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler has occupied a sure place as one of the most popular of English classics — and earned its author a reputation as one of the most genial of men.”
Time magazine (31 Dec, 1956)

“Walton was 60 when The Compleat Angler was first published in 1653. It is, to a large extent, intended to be a practical handbook of the angler's art, but it is much more than that. We find practical advice on baits, recipes for cooking fish and reflections on life pleasantly intermingled ... Izaak Walton is generally accepted as being the first person specifically to devote himself to portraying and interpreting the atmosphere, sights and sounds of the countryside and its inhabitants. This book is one of the most popular of the English classics.”
Neville Malkin (1974) on


Charles-Cotton-Portrait-the Compleat-Angler-Part-Two-Walton

“Charles Cotton, above all, a prince of fly-fishers to whom the whole angling fraternity is for ever indebted.”
Gerald G. P Heywood, Charles Cotton & His River (1928)

“So, who was this Charles Cotton? He was a lot of things. But most of all he was a fly-fisherman … and a really great one ... A man prized for his wit and conversation ... and remarkable as it may seem, he wrote his contribution to The Compleat Angler in just ten days.”
Geoffrey Palmer on 
The Compleat Angler TV Series (2006)

“Cotton's fly-fishing section is regarded as very significant for the progress and diversification of fly-fishing until the beginning of the nineteenth century. He can therefore be called the founding father of modern fly-fishing.”
Darrel Martin, 
The Fly-Fisher's Craft (2006)


“We may suppose Cotton, tempted by the vicinity of a river plentifully stored with fish, to have chosen angling for his recreation; and, looking upon it as an art, to have applied himself naturally to fly-fishing.” 
J.E. Harting, 'Introduction' to The Complete Angler (1893)


“At his ancestral home on the banks of the river Dove, surrounded by mountains, valleys, and moorlands, the poet would live for most of his life. Cotton's physical environment fostered a love of nature just as his social and cultural background fostered an appreciation for literature, especially poetry.” 
Jean Gagen in Dictionary of Literary Biography



A Fine (& Far Off) Bromance

Izaak Walton Charles Cotton portrait the compleat angler 1676

“It is the most famous friendship in the history of angling, and one of the most touching of all times.”
Roderick Haig-Brown, Izaak Walton: Friends and Rivers (1984)


“Walton without Cotton is like good manners without meat!”

Eric Taverner & John Moore, The Angler’s Weekend Book (1949)


“What spot more honoured than this peaceful place?
Twice honoured, truly, Here Charles Cotton sang,
Hilarious – his whole-hearted sons, that rang
With a true note, through town and country ways,
While the Dove trout in chorus splashed their praise.
Here Walton sat with Cotton, in the shade,
And watched him dubb his flies, and doubtless made
The time seem short, with gossips of old days.
Their cyphers are enlaced above the door,
And in each Angler’s heart, firm-set and sure.
While rivers run, shall those twin names endure –
WALTON and COTTON linked for evermore –
And ‘Piscatoribus sacrum’ – where more fit
A motto, for their wisdom, worth and wit!”

Thomas Westwood, Twelve Sonnets and an Epilogue In Memoriam I. Walton (1884)


“Who was Charles Cotton? Serious fishermen consider him 'father of fly fishing' as all fishermen, and non-fishermen, consider Isaak Walton "father of fishing". They know, too, that Cotton and Walton were not only contemporaries but close friends. They fished together, discoursed together, loved one another as father and son and spoke of one another as father and son.” 
Van Egan, A Fishing House on a River (1976)

The Compleat Angler authors Izaak Walton Charles Cotton Part One Part two 1653 1676 book