And after the second reading I had comepletely changed my mind. It was Vince Brandon, who first made me aware of this book, and then I was quite disappointed only to find out that it was sold out. Vince contacted the publisher (Medlar Press) and it turned out there were still some left, so it came available online again, and I quickly ordered a copy. As of today, it looks as if it's still available at Medlar Press.
George Selwyn Marryat is a mythical character in the annals of flyfishing's early times in Southern England. He never really wrote anything official, only two letters to The Fishing Gazette and The Field (on the origin of fly fishing and one of quill bodies for dry flies). And this is one of the reasons that not much is known about him.
Thankfully some personal correspondance has also survived and his close friend, the (in)famous F. M. Halford has written some about him, and preserved his fly dressings for the future. A lot is also to be seduced from the obituaries written after his death in 1896. All in all it is clear that he never sought lime light, altough he clearly enjoyed the company of his friends when they fished the chalks streams together and stayed at local hotels for extended periods of time. His friends described him as witful, excellent company, always with a quick remark, even a bot of a prankster.
And of course, nothing less than the best dry fly fisherman of his time. He was an expert caster, by all accounts the very best among his friends (many of whom called him the best in the world, which of course was a blod statement). He was a good shot, and enjoyed shooting parties and he palyed a very good game of billiards in the "smoking room" at night.
Another characteristic that comes through is his willingness to help. Both young kids and friends, never reluctant to have them have to first cast to a spotted fish, or to take a step back at a shooting to let friends have the first shots.
As so little is acutally known about him, the author (Terry Lawton) has done quite a good job in describing the general society at his time and by placing Marryat and his peers in the temporal context helps the reader understand both better. From official records, Lawton has documented his life and his family quite well, which is quite interesting. There are plenty of interesting side stories to create this context and one I particularly enjoyed was the story of the first succesful shipment of trout ova to Australia.
From what is available today, I think Terry Lawton has done an excellent job and written a biography about this legendary fly fisherman. shrouded as he his in a bit of mystery, that is highly recommendable to those interested in early dry fly fishing, the times and of course Marryat and his peers.
Title: Marryat - Prince of fly fishers.
Author: Terry Lawton.
Publisher: Medlar Press (2010).
192 pages including appendix, index etc.
Have a great weekend!