Albert R. Mann Library
Frontispiece to the 1496 edition of A Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle

Dame Juliana de Berners (her name is also spelled “Bernes” and “Barnes”) is a shadowy historical figure assumed to be the author of the earliest known English-language treatise on fly-fishing. She may, or may not, have been the Prioress of the Sopwell nunnery, and a lady of noble birth. We know that she was celebrated, at least posthumously, for her learning and accomplishments. The oldest surviving version of the Treatyse of Fysshynge wyth an Angle is a single manuscript, copied in about 1450, presumably from a now-lost original. This manuscript is anonymous. In 1496, the Treatyse of Fysshynge was printed as part of The Book of St. Albans, along with treatises on hunting, hawking, and heraldry. Of these, only the hunting treatise is attributed to an author: “Explicit Dam Julyans Barnes in her boke of huntyng.”

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