Prue Shaw studied at the University of Sydney, where she gained First Class degrees in English and in Italian, and was a Teaching Fellow in the Department of English for a year. She won the Wentworth Travelling Fellowship for study abroad, an award made once every three years to ‘the candidate of highest merit among students and graduates of the Faculty of Arts’. She then took degrees at the the Universities of Florence (Dott. In Lett.) and Oxford (B. Phil in General and Comparative Literature). She taught Italian Language and Literature at the University of Cambridge (where she was a Fellow of New Hall) and the University of London (Bedford College, and, from 1984 to 2003, University College London).