This notice surveys an interest which began in the early seventeenth century with diplomatic and trading  visitors to the Safavid court, with pioneer publications, including grammars and translations by scholars who were however not necessarily Persian specialists.  Such specialists appear in the eighteenth century when the activities of the East India Company and of soldiers and diplomats serving in the subcontinent provided an impetus to Persian studies.  This led to specific posts for teaching Persian language, literature, history and culture during the nineteenth century, and a popularisation of Persian literature through such works as Edward Fitzgerald’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and a voluminous literature of travels in Persia, Afghanistan and, to a lesser extent, in Central Asia.  Needs highlighted by the two World Wars of the twentieth century led to an expansion of University posts in Persian during the middle decades of the century, despite the end of empire and the Indian connection, although there was a certain constriction of funding towards the end of that century, which has only been partially offset in recent years.

C. Edmund Bosworth, University of Exeter
CER: I-1.2.A-39