The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971 Page: 443
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in two volumes, and in 1964 he followed this with a volume of Pres-
Now Gardiner says the final word in this well-written biography.
Thoroughly researched, yet written in Victorian style which fits the
subject, this complete study of Prescott supersedes the three earlier
biographies. Gardiner has not only detailed the facts of Prescott's life,
but he also humanizes him and gives considerable insight into this
famous scholar as a man, a social being, and as a self-educated literary
critic whose "epic" stories about Spain and America are literary mas-
terpieces as well as good history. Despite the work of many scholars
who have worked in the archives of Spain since his days, Prescott's
Conquest of Mexico and Conquest of Peru still remain good his-
William Hickling Prescott was born in Salem, Massachusetts, May
4, 1796, a descendent of a soldier-grandfather of Bunker Hill fame, a
staunch Federalist lawyer father, and a mother from whom he inherited
a love for travel. Despite the latter attachment, Prescott was essentially
a New Englander, and preferred his home environment to any other.
He was brought up in intellectual circles, and exposed to his father's
large and excellent library. At Harvard, during some "student playing
around" in his junior year, he received an injury to his eye which
left permanent effects on his vision. He graduated from Harvard, but
his impaired eyesight caused him to drop out of law school. He did
not want to become a merchant. Instead, he became a man of letters;
he edited a short-lived literary journal, and he wrote lengthy pieces
of literary criticisms (usually unsigned) for the North American Re-
view. Toying with literature, he was influenced by his friend George
Tichnor and turned his interest in writing to Spanish literature. His
Ferdinand and Isabella won him an international reputation. His Con-
quest of Mexico, conceived as an epic in prose, a romance of chivalry,
became his greatest achievement.
Prescott had the help of many secretaries, booksellers, researchers,
and others. He collected materials from far and wide with aid from
such men as Pascual de Gayangos and Pedro Calder6n de la Barca. He
wedded history and literature; he represented the self-educated and
outstanding historian at his best. As a man he won credit for an
inspiring triumph over a vast array of obstacles. He died after a stroke
of apoplexy on January 28, 1859.
Undoubtedly this book is C. Harvey Gardiner's labor of love. In
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 74, July 1970 - April, 1971, periodical, 1971; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101200/m1/455/: accessed June 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.