The first book on fishing

Jennifer Ayto

Title page of Julyana Berner's "Boke of St Albans"
An illustration from the "Treatyse of fysshynge wyth an angle"
Fifteenth century fish hooks

Reflecting on fishing’s reputation as being the preserve of old men, Brian Clarke, the Angling correspondent for the Times, pointed out in his September article that the first manual on angling was written by a woman.1

It was 520 years ago that A Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle was published in St Albans.  Its author was Juliana Berners who, it is thought, was Prioress of the Benedictine Nunnery of Sopwell, attached to the Abbey of St Alban.

The first edition of her Boke of St Albans was published in 1486 and dealt with hawking, hunting and coat armour.  The second edition included the treatise on fishing.

Facsimile copies of this are available (reference only) at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies (HALS) and St Albans Library (call number 799.12).

Juliana is just one of the many interesting women who are subject of a talk on Remarkable Women in Hertfordshire’s History by the experts at HALS.  To see the full range of talks, look at the Education and Workshops section under this link



1  The Times, 5 September 2016


This page was added on 31/10/2016.

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