BV was quite simply, the best angling writer of the twentieth century. No other angling writer has approached his genius for capturing the distilled essence of what is angling. His books were written in a glorious, almost florid style; never with facile turn of phrase, to a dumbed-down Sun-reader market, but up to a faithful congregation who saw Arcadia in his perfectly chosen words. Bernard was the consummate wordsmith.

Bernardís superb hardback books sold well to a receptive generation of post-war anglers, but it was Crabtree that made him famous. Mr Crabtree Goes Fishing was devoured by a whole generation of baby boomers, who poured over it daily, and could quote verbatim from any page, on demand. Bernardís own brilliant illustrations were almost live, so when we though of a chub, or a trout, or a carp, it was always the Venables version that then came to mind: and still does, for me.

As strange and painful as it is to admit it, at the beginning of this new millennium the majority of today's anglers are probably too young to have been weaned on a diet of Crabtree. Poor them, for through this wonderful book the grey world of a near bankrupt Britain was once turned into a Garden of Eden, where rivers ran clear, and ponds fizzed with life. Here we learned, by way of its gentle rustic charm, that angling is as much about anticipation, and delight in simple pleasures, as it is about the pursuit of huge fish.


Bernard did so much to shape the angling world we know now: through Crabtree, of course, but also through his work in founding the Angling Times, the A.C.A., and the superb but ill-fated Creel magazine.

In recent years the faithful have worn a path to Bernardís door, anxious to touch the hand that had so touched their lives. Encouraged back to writing by Bob James and Chris Yates, Bernard found his old audience, and a whole new generation of anglers, ready to wonder at his words. Despite failing eyesight, his Waterlog column showed that even in his nineties, the essential vision was still clear in his mind.

This was indeed, an extraordinary life. On behalf of all of us Bernard, thank-you.


John Olliff-Cooper