William Hickling Prescott

Prescott, William Hickling


Born May 4, 1796, in Salem, Mass.; died Jan. 28, 1859, in Boston, Mass. American historian and literary scholar.

Prescott’s first field of research was Western European literary history. He then studied Spanish history of the 15th and 16th centuries and the Spanish colonial conquests in America. His histories were written from a bourgeois liberal point of view. In his works Conquest of Mexico (1843; abridged Russian translation, vols. 1–2, 1885) and Conquest of Peru (1847; abridged Russian translation, 1886), Prescott drew on an abundance of original sources. Although he idealized certain conquistadors, he exposed the greed and cruelty of the Spanish colonizers. Prescott was a member or corresponding member of several academies and scientific societies in Western Europe and the USA.


The Works, vols. 1–22. Philadelphia-London, 1904.
The Correspondence: 1833–1847. Boston-New York, 1925.
The Literary Memoranda, vols. 1–2. Norman, 1961.
The Papers. Urbana, 1964.
In Russian translation:
Istoriia tsarstvovaniia Filippa II, parts 1–2. St. Petersburg, 1858.


Gardiner, C. H. W. H. Prescott. Washington, 1958. (Contains a bibliography.)
References in periodicals archive ?
Heti's offbeat intellectual pursuits have taken root in her debut novel, Ticknor, a fictionalized account of the real-life friendship between two intellectuals of the nineteenth century: historian William Hickling Prescott and his childhood companion and biographer, George Ticknor, a Harvard professor and a book collector.
William Hickling Prescott wrote in his 1838, The History of the Conquest of Mexico: "Montezuma took no other beverage than the chocolatl, a potation of chocolate, flavored with vanilla and spices, and so prepared as to be reduced to a froth the consistency of honey, which gradually dissolved in the mouth and was taken cold.
A sense of tradition and history is only appropriate in a 130-year-old town named for a historian, William Hickling Prescott.