Fishing Diary, Revisited

June 17, 2007 at 8:25 pm 3 comments

Lesley left me a comment a few days ago asking for more information about Muriel Fisher’s Fishing Diary, so I took a few pictures to share.

Apparently Muriel was a very interesting, active woman and an avid “fisherwoman.” Throughout her life, she kept a fishing diary. Now, to someone like myself who is not a serious angler, the idea of a fishing diary seems kind of odd. A quick Google Search, however, shows that plenty of people keep detailed and illustrated diaries of their fishing exploits. There’s even fishing diary software you can buy! I suppose it makes sense; if you love to fish, you would want to keep a record of your trips so that you remember the best places, the big catches, and the good times. Really, is it so different from this blog? This is a fishing diary in many ways, only the fish I catch happen to be books…

Anyway, Muriel kept this particular fishing diary for many years, starting in 1913. Each page is filled not only with notes but with lush illustrations of the wildlife, fish, and landscapes Muriel saw while out on the water. It’s a beautiful book even if you have no interest in fishing. She was a talented illustrator.

Years later, Muriel’s grandchild found the diary and decided that it ought to be shared with a broader audience than the family circle. Her efforts led to the creation of a facsimile book, very much similar to Muriel’s original diary. It was published in 1980 and apparently met with sufficient success that it was re-released 16 years later. My copy is the first edition.

The book comes in a nice little box. When I first saw it I thought it was probably some sort of Hallmark gift book.

FD1

Inside the box, the volume is bound in leather with a gold-stamped title. Let us all spare a moment in recognition of my wrath at people who put price stickers on nice book covers.

FD2

There is an inscription inside the front cover. The purchaser gave it to his (?) fishing buddies as a momento of all the good times they had shared and the good times he hoped to share in the future. I love a good book inscription, and always try to remember to write in the books I give as gifts. They just add that extra bit of story…

FD3

One of the most elaborate of the illustrations – practically an illuminsted manuscript – right at the front:

FD4

A few more examples of the art and entries:

FD5

FD6

As time progressed – and we’re talking something like 30 years here – the illustrations become simpler and the handwriting less clear. The totals decrease as well, indicating either lack of vigor in the anglers or evolution of the fishing spots. Muriel’s aging process is visible on the pages, although she rarely refers to any personal details: here, a mention of a friend’s injured leg; there, a brief reference to arthritis.

The back of the book is devoted to tables and illustrations that teach how to weigh and measure a fish.

FD7

Really a beautiful book. If you can find a copy – I suspect the 1996 edition is the same as the 1980 – it would make a very nice addition to the library of your favorite angler, naturalist, illustrator, or bibliophile.

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Entry filed under: Reading, Reviews.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Lesley  |  July 5, 2007 at 7:00 pm

    Oh, thank you for posting that!

    It looks like such a little treasure of a book, particularly for those early sketches. What an interesting peek into someone’s life.

    Reply
  • 2. anincorrigible  |  August 19, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    What a great book, I have a copy of ‘Days on Sea, Lock and River by the same authur. A real charm of a read

    Reply
  • 3. Mark  |  September 17, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Yes, this is an excellent book and one to be read by anyone who appreciates fine illustration. The subtle story woven through the entries is also quite memorable. I comment here to point out that the original Viking Press 1980 US printed edition is the one to have. The subsequent publishing’s are not nearly as nice IMHO; the color illustrations are not as vivid, the paper seems somewhat inferior, and overall the printing is not as fine – particularly in the recent offshore printings. These lower grade versions are often sold online with very little publishing detail and can be mixed up with the first edition – so check the details and/or request info from the seller before buying a copy!

    Reply

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