FISHING AUTHOR DIES, AGED 94
|Best-selling fly fishing author and president of the Angling Writers' Association Bernard Venables died today aged 94 at his home in Wiltshire.|
Mr Venables was working at the Daily Mirror writing a gardening series featuring a Mr Crabtree when he suggested to editor Sylvester Bolam that Crabtree go fishing as little was happening in the garden over winter.
His boss agreed and so Mr Crabtree put away his garden tools and went down to the riverbank with his son Peter. And so began the adventures of Mr Crabtree and young Peter in a strip cartoon which soon developed into the book, telling stories of how young Peter learnt about fishing and the wildlife around the riverbank from Mr Crabtree.
Mr Venables wrote dozens of new stories, laying them out and painting all the pictures himself.
The book, Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing, was an instant best-seller when it came out in 1948.
One reviewer said Venables had written and illustrated the best fishing book since Izaak Walton's The Compleat Angler.
In fact, Mr Crabtree was to prove even more popular than Walton, with sales exceeding two million copies - making it by the far the best-selling sports book of all time.
Mr Venables, though, never saw the profits as he was still working for the Mirror at the time, but he is known to have taken great pleasure in the knowledge that he was responsible for many youngsters taking up fishing.
A prolific writer, he wrote more than 18 books and produced introductions for dozens more.
Venables' most recent book, A Rise to the Fly, was a compendium of his best writings about fly-fishing over the past half-century which was published last year to widespread critical acclaim.
Millions of readers were attracted to his books because he believed fishing should be just as much about watching swallows and kingfishers and admiring kingcups and bluebells as about catching fish.
He also played a major role in helping to launch Angling Times and Creel.
In recent years he had been working on his autobiography and fishing the River Avon, near his home in Wiltshire.
Fishing since he was six years old, Venables witnessed fishing, the river environment and the politics of angling change dramatically over the years but he managed to capture the innocence of the enjoyment of fishing which persists to the modern day.
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