Izaak Wilton, an English author, horn in Stafford, Aug. 9, 1593, died in Winchester, Dec. 15, 1683. He was a sempster or haberdasher in London, retired from business in 1644 with a moderate competency, and during the remainder of his life, according to Wood, "lived mostly in the families of eminent clergymen of England, of whom he was much beloved." While pursuing his business in London he became an admirer and intimate friend of Dr. Donne, and published a life of him, with an edition of his sermons (1640). In 1651 he edited a collection of Wotton's remains, under the title of " Reliquiae Wottonianae," to which was prefixed a life of Wotton. In 1653 he produced his " Compleat Angler, or the Contemplative Man's Eecreation," which, apart from its technical value, presents a pleasing picture of the author's cheerful and devout spirit, his enthusiasm for the art of which he treats, his love of nature, and his poetic instincts. Walton lived to see his book go through five editions, the last of which (1676) was accompanied by a second part, " being instructions how to angle for a trout or grayling in a clear stream," written by his intimate friend and adopted son Charles Cotton. Cotton's treatise is mainly devoted to fly fishing, and has ever since been printed with that of Walton. Of the many editions of the "Complete Angler " since published, the most noticeable are those of Major (8vo, London, 1823; 4th ed., with new plates, 1844), remarkable for its numerous admirable woodcuts and engravings; of Sir Harris Nicolas (2 vols. imp. 8vo, London, 1833-'6, reprinted in 1860), which, besides being profusely illustrated, contains the best life of Walton yet written; and of Edward Jesse and H. G. Bohn (1861), containing, with others, the notes and plates of Major's editions.
An American edition (1847) contains an excellent bibliographical preface and other valuable matter by the Rev. Dr. Bethtine. A facsimile reprint of the rare first edition was published by Elliot Stock in London in 1876. Walton's remaining works comprise lives of Richard Hooker (1665), George Herbert (1670), and Bishop Robert Sanderson (1678); and in 1683 he edited with an introduction John Chalkhill's "Thealma and Clearchus." He left a son, Izaak, who took orders; but no descendants of his name are now known.