Seventeenth century English writer Izaak Walton (1593–1683) lived a life many dream of. Born on this day in the quiet Stafford countryside, he overcame losing his father when he was five to own a successful London linen business.
He once said: “God has two dwellings: one in heaven, and the other in a meek and thankful heart."
Walton was a voracious reader and engaging conversationalist. He became friends with the famed poet John Donne and upon Donne's death in 1631, Walton wrote the brilliant Life of Donne, an elegy and anecdotal biography to honor his great friend.
Walton followed that success with biographical portraits of the respected men of his time: Sir Henry Wotton (1651), Richard Hooker (1665), George Herbert (1670), and Dr. Robert Sanderson (1678).
"Look to your health; and if you have it, praise God, and value it next to a good conscience; for health is the second blessing that we mortals are capable of; a blessing that money cannot buy," he said.
Walton retired at age 50 to concentrate on his favorite pasttime: fishing. His experiences on the River Dove inspired him to write the fishing classic, The Compleat Angler (1653).
"Angling is an Art," Walton said. "...An art worth your learning."
The popular book celebrated Walton's passion for fishing, folklore, and life. Frequently reprinted, the book lives on, selling (according to the BBC) more copies than the Bible.
"Angling may be said to be so like the mathematics, that it can never be fully learnt," he wrote. The father of all casters, Walton spent his last 40 years perfecting the art of fly-fishing.
Good friends are life's best traveling companions.