Women's Writing Before Woolf: A Social Reference/Anne Lake Prescott 2

Anne Lake Prescott


PhD. Author, Helen Goodhart Altschul Professor of English, and expert on literature written during the English Renaissance, and the periodical connection between England and France.



Born at Doctors Hospital, New York, in 1939, Anne Lake Prescott completed her Bachelor of Arts at Barnard College, Columbia University, and earned her Master of Arts in 1961. In 1967, she earned her Doctor in Philosophy, while simultaneously caring for her two children. Impressively, Prescott additionally spent time at both Radcliffe College and the University of Paris. In 1967, Prescott began teaching at Barnard, where she affiliated with the Comparative literature program, the medieval studies program, and the Renaissance studies program.

Working on a part-time basis, Prescott worked as an English language educator at Barnard College in New York for six years before the role expanded. She worked as assistant professor from 1963 to 1973, associate professor from 1973 to 1980, chairman of English from 1988 to 1992, then, finally, full-time professor. She remained with Barnard College for the length of her career.  

At the start of her career, Prescott met the British historian, A.L Rowse (1903 – 1997), who encouraged her interest in Historical research and advised her to study Anglo-French relations during the Renaissance period. Prescott widely accredits her interest in the Renaissance relationship between English and French to her meeting with Rowse, which inspired her career and sparked later studies revolving around the subject, including Prescott’s first novel, French Poets and the English Renaissance: Studies in Fame and Transformation (Conari Press, 1978). Furthermore, Prescott claimed the 1953 movie, “The Young Elizabeth”, to be an inspiration in her early career, as she took interest in the Renaissance fashion and political dynamic.

Intrigued by the social and intellectual relationship between the English and the French, Prescott took an interest in early Renaissance behaviour, particularly how much the English read during the Renaissance period. After her marriage, she lived in France for a year where she developed a strong connection to the French language. These combined factors made the choice in what to study somewhat obvious as Prescott seized the opportunity to combine her interests with her passion for academic research.  



French Poets and the English Renaissance: Studies in Fame and Transformation (Conari Press, 1978)

Imagining Rabelais in Renaissance England (Yale University Press, 1998)

Mothers Through the Eyes of Women (Conari Press 2001)


Approaches to Teaching Shorter Elizabethan Poetry, edited with P. Cheney (MLA, 2000)

Female and Male Voices in Early Modern England, edited with B. Travitsky (Columbia, 2000)

Renaissance Historicisms: Essays in Honor of Arthur F. Kinney, edited with J. Dutcher (Delaware University Press, 2008)

Prescott participated in several academic memberships, including a trusteeship for the Renaissance society of America, and president to both the International Spenser Society and the 16th Century Society. Additionally, Prescott worked as the co-editor to two Ashgate series of editions of early modern texts by modern women and served on the editorial teams of the John Donne Journal, the Sidney Journal, SEL, Queries, and American Notes.

Currently, Prescott has dedicated her time to studying David in the Renaissance, and the Renaissance almanacs and calendars.

Reputation and Legacy


Dr. Prescott’s extensive research and work on Literature during the Renaissance period earned her the Colin Clout Lifetime Award from the Spencer Society in 2007, which symbolises the significant contributions of senior scholars. Later she received the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and elected an honouree for the Distinguished Worldwide Humanitarian Award.

Anne Prescott earned her esteemed reputation as a scholar through her perseverance and in-depth examination of the Renaissance period, Renaissance literature, and the relationship between England and France during this period. Her passion for her studies and students drove her research and created an exceptional quality of work. She is valued and loved by students, scholars and anyone who took interest in her chosen field.

Respected by her colleagues, Dr. Prescott developed a deep understanding of English Renaissance and used her studies to educate and instigate interest in the historical field in order to shape the minds of the young historians and English scholars in her classroom. In doing so, Prescott created a wealth of information regarding this time period and continues to do so to this day as she remains a teacher well into her late eighties. In light of her on-coming retirement, Prescott took part in a documentary on her life and work as an educator and professor, which covered her many contributions to English, French and Renaissance studies.

To this day, Prescott claims her time as the main speaker at the Renaissance Society of America’s annual conference to be the highlight of her career. Despite her nerves, Prescott delivered a strong speech and incurred praise for her career and insight into the field. She continues her work in 2022 as she works on a collection of established essays, in an office she shares with prized novelist, Mary Gordon, a former student of Prescott. However, Gordon is not the only esteemed former student in Prescott’s repertoire, as she stands alongside Jhumpa Lahiri, Pulitzer Prize winner.

On the 17th of February, 2022, Dr. Prescott received the 2022 Paul Oskar Kristeller Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Renaissance Society of America (RSA), in recognition of her lifelong devotion to the highest standards of scholarship and exceptional achievement in Renaissance studies.

Among her many accomplishments, Prescott stands as a prized author and professor with a myriad of articles and awards to her name.

Works Cited | References


“Anne Prescott | Barnard College.” Barnard.edu, barnard.edu/profiles/anne-prescott. Accessed 18 Oct. 2022.

‌ThriftBooks. “Anne Lake Prescott Books | List of Books by Author Anne Lake Prescott.” ThriftBooks, www.thriftbooks.com/a/anne-lake-prescott/224890/. Accessed 18 Oct. 2022.

“Anne Lake Prescott Documentary.” Www.youtube.com, www.youtube.com/watch?v=qOEGE9bhXcg. Accessed 18 Oct. 2022.

‌“ANNE LAKE PRESCOTT.” Who’s Who of Professional Women, 18 Oct. 2019, www.whoswhoofprofessionalwomen.com/listee-features/anne-lake-prescott/. Accessed 18 Oct. 2022.

“Anne Lake Prescott.” Prabook.com, prabook.com/web/anne_lake.prescott/641745. Accessed 18 Oct. 2022.

Further Reading


Printed Writings 1641-1700 (Early Modern Englishwoman: A Facsimile Library of Essential Works) by Betty S. Travitsky (Editor), Anne Lake Prescott (Editor) and Emeritus Patrick Cullen (Editor) (Routledge, 2012)

Katherine Philips (1631/2–1664): Printed Letters 1697–1729. Printed Writings 1641–1700: Series II, Part Three, Volume 3, by Paula Loscocco (Routledge, 2007)

The Broadview Anthology of British Literature, Volume 2: The Renaissance and the Early Seventeenth Century by Joseph Black (Editor), Leonard Connolly (Editor), Kate Flint (Editor), Isobel Grundy (Editor), Don LePan (Editor), Roy Liuzza (Editor), Jerome J. McGann (Editor), Anne Prescott (Editor), Barry Qualls (Editor), Claire Waters (Editor)