Poles in Britain: History, Culture and Literature

11 and 12th July 2019, University of Portsmouth

On 11 July, we will be hosting a reading by two of Britain’s leading Anglo-Polish writers: Agnieszka Dale and Wioletta Greg at the Square Tower in Old Portsmouth.

To register for a free ticket, please click here.


Our Poles in Britian symposium takes place on 12 July.

To register , please click here. This is the draft programme. 

The aim of the symposium is to bring together scholars whose work is concerned with aspects of the Polish presence in Britain from c. 1750 to the present. Britain has long been a place of residence – sometimes permanent, sometimes temporary – for Poles. The eighteenth century saw a series of significant visits to Britain from Poland’s major political leaders – among them the future King, Stanisław August Poniatowski in 1754, and the statesman and military leader Tadueusz Kościuszko in 1797 – and the emergence of a Protestant Polish community in London. Larger groups of Poles, meanwhile, settled in Britain after the expulsions and large-scale emigration from Polish territories sparked by the failed uprisings of 1830-1 and 1863-4. Various waves of migration to Britain were to follow, perhaps most notably those in the wake the Second World War, the Solidarity protests of the early 1980s, and the entry of Poland into the European Union in 2004. As a consequence, the history of Polish Britain is a story both of continuity and change. There has been a continuous Polish presence in the country for many years. However, the social, political and cultural character of that presence has been a constantly evolving one, with new migrants arriving, other individuals returning to Poland or travelling on elsewhere, and existing communities responding to changing local, national and international circumstances.

Our aim in this conference is to explore the various historical, cultural and literary legacies of Polish Britain, and their significance for both the British and Polish nations.

Polish Memorial, Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth - Pomnik Powstańców Listopadowych
Polish Memorial, Kingston Cemetery, Portsmouth – Pomnik Powstańców Listopadowych

The conference will take place in the city of Portsmouth, the home of one of Britain’s oldest Polish communities.