Prescott, William Hickling (1796-1859), a United States historian. In his works on the role of Spain in the New World he gives a colorful, dramatic account of events through emphasis on the personality of powerful individuals. A History of Ferdinand and Isabella (3 volumes, 1838) was followed by A History of the Conquest of Mexico (3 volumes, 1843). In A History of the Conquest of Peru (2 volumes, 1847), Pizarro is the central figure.
Prescott was born in Salem, Massachusetts. While a student at Harvard, he was blinded in his left eye by a prankishly thrown bread crust. He later lost most of the sight in his right eye. While visiting Europe during 1815-17, he gathered background material for his histories. Only three volumes of a projected four-volume History of the Reign of Philip the Second were completed at his death.