The Society was founded in 1954 in Oxford and its first conference was held the following year. In the early days, membership was small and activities were conducted under the shadow of the political situation in post-war Spain.
The evolution of the Society, however, has mirrored developments in the Països Catalans themselves, as the recovery of political autonomy has been attended by a process of normalized social use of the Catalan language and by a renewed surge in the traditional dynamism of Catalan culture. Current membership is around 230 and expanding. In 1986 the Society was the first award holder of the prestigious Premi Ramon Lull as recognition, by several major academic institutions, of its service to Catalan culture. In 1992 we were honoured to receive the Creu de Sant Jordi, the major accolade bestowed by the Generalitat. Both these events and the honours received by distinguished members of the ACS, such as Professor Arthur Terry, Professor Alan Yates and Professor Max Wheeler, give the surest indication of the continuing relevance and value of our efforts.
A major function of the Society is to develop contacts and relations with other bodies whose interests coincide with our own. Among these are the other international societies of Catalan studies, universities where Catalan is taught, official cultural bodies and institutions. This is an area of activity which has expanded since the 1970s with the changes in the Spanish State and the consolidation of autonomous political and cultural institutions. More recently we have liaised closely with the Institut Ramon Llull and the network of Catalan-speaking language assistants they support across Britain and Ireland.