John Butt studied Spanish, French and Portuguese at Trinity College Cambridge. In 1965 he moved to the Spanish Department of King’s College, where he was awarded at Ph.D. in 1969 for his thesis on the early political thought of Miguel de Unamuno. He was later promoted to Senior Lecturer, Reader and finally Professor of Modern Hispanic Studies. He retired in 2002 and since then has lived in Central London and devotes himself to general reading, linguistics, information technology and exploring Britain and Spain.
John Butt’s initial research interest was literary, and primarily dedicated to the interplay of politics and literature in 19th and early 20th-century. He was especially interested in the definition and fate of Castilian Modernism, and in separating this term from the more restrictive Spanish term modernismo. In the early 1980s his lifelong interest in linguistics inspired him to prepare, with Carmen Benjamin, a new and authoritative reference work on the Grammar of Modern Spanish. A New Reference Grammar of Modern Spanish is now in its 4th edition and has become the standard reference grammar of the language in the English-speaking world.
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