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Preface by Anthony Robertson

Roderick Haig-Brown is widely read and best-known as a fishing writer one of the best in a long and distinguished tradition which begins with Izaak Walton and Charles Cotton in the seventeenth century. It is largely an English tradition, although there have been some Canadian practitioners.

Haig-Brown is somewhat less widely read and known as a naturalist and a writer of the country life and country matters. As a novelist and historian, he is scarcely known at all, although he wrote two serious novels, five novels for young readers and three histories for young readers. In all he wrote twenty-eight books and contributed chapters to at least two others. The fishing books have remained in print the longest and they have made his reputation as a writer.

That is no bad reputation to have. It is something to write well, whatever the subject. But the exclusivity of his reputation tends to impose an unfair limitation on the general assessment of Haig-Brown's work. He was an essayist, a novelist, a naturalist, a teacher, a fine writer of technical and scientific works, and a practical philosopher deeply concerned with how men live in the world. Especially, in all these things, he is a writer of place. Like the landscape painter who wishes to both describe and define, he is more concerned with meaning than precise, realistic description. His writerly intentions are complex and ambitious. Whatever else he did in life, he considered himself first a professional writer. He was not a fisherman who happened to write, but a writer who happened to fish. He wrote about the things he knew well fishing was one of them.