History > Origins
Until well into the 1940s Castilian enjoyed a monopoly of Spanish Studies in British universities.
Catalan was only offered at the Universities of Liverpool and Belfast, thanks to the interest of Professors Allison Peers and González Llubera, and even there the teaching of Catalan language and literature was carried out at a very basic level.
It should also be observed that in the UK at that time there existed no serious school of Spanish-American studies either, so strong and widespread was the hold of peninsular Spanish and of its influence in the universities.
However, the Spanish Civil War and its result brought into play forces which were not entirely favourable to the maintenance of Castilian cultural domination. Thanks to the news which was received daily from Spain, the British people, and amongst them members of the universities, were becoming better informed about Spain, and took greater interest in the variety of cultures which it contained. The arrival in London in 1938 of Dr Josep Maria Batista i Roca as the special envoy of President Companys, and his exile in this country after the war was over, had an important effect upon the development of Catalan studies here. Together with other Catalans, both exiles and previous residents in England, he set about creating a feeling of solidarity with the cause of the Catalan people, and a sense of injustice at the manifest persecution to which Catalan culture was being subjected in the very difficult years following the end of the Civil War. The historian Ferran Soldevila has pointed to what he called "the Anglo-Catalan connection, which is one of the features of our international politics, parallel to the traditional Franco-Castilian alliance". It was in this spirit, the spirit of traditional Anglo-Catalan rapport, that these dedicated Catalans went about their task at that time, and it was this spirit which they succeeded in awakening in their pro-Catalan British friends.