quiet (adj.)
It is a beauteous evening, calm and free,
The holy time is quiet as a nun,
Breathless with adoration.
William Wordsworth (1770-1850), ‘It is a Beauteous Evening’
Wasdale from Wastwater. © GkgAlf, Wikimedia Commons.
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English Language and History

The brief stories below are taken from history, myth or fiction. Each one is accompanied by games and exercises in essential grammar and free composition, based on old school textbooks.

A to Z Index

September 23, 1779
The Battle of Flamborugh Head
The Battle of Flamborough Head
Music: John Hebden
An American revolutionary harassed British commercial shipping off the Yorkshire coast, with mixed results.

IN September 1779, John Paul Jones, a commander in the American Continental Navy, led a makeshift flotilla of French ships around Scotland and down into the North Sea, harassing commercial shipping as far as Bridlington.

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Thomas Brassey
two-part story
Music: Cipriani Potter
The unsung surveyor from Cheshire, who built railways and made friends across the world.

THOMAS Brassey, son of a prosperous Cheshire farmer, began his career in road-building as an apprentice to surveyor William Lawton, on Thomas Telford’s Shrewsbury to Holyhead road. Brassey rose from apprentice to partner, and Lawton and Brassey relocated to Birkenhead to make road-building materials.

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Six Posts
The Birds
two-part story
Music: Richard Jones
Two men fed up with Athenian politics decide to build a city in the sky.
Based on the play by Aristophanes
(c. 445-386 BC)

TWO men from Athens, that cradle of democracy, were fed up with the childish politicking and squabbles about laws.

Imagine, said Pisthetaerus to his friend Euelpides, that we were birds! We could build ourselves a city in the sky, and get away from it all.

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Xerxes Scourges the Hellespont
Music: Frank Bridge
The Persian King felt that a lord of his majesty should not have to take any nonsense from an overgrown river.
By Herodotus
(?484-?425 BC)

MEANWHILE, his men were bridging the Hellespont from Asia to Europe. But no sooner had the strait been bridged than a great storm swept down, breaking and scattering everything.

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Cuthbert, the Bridle and the Book
Music: Sir John Blackwood McEwen
One of England’s most precious artefacts, the Lindisfarne Gospels, was nearly lost at sea.

IN about 882, the little band of monks who cared for St Cuthbert’s coffin boarded a ship at Workington, seeking refuge in Ireland from the Danish invasion. But three miles out a storm arose, washing their cherished, hand-painted copy of the Gospels overboard, and tossing their little ship ashore at Whithorn in Galloway.

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Out of Touch
Music: Francesco Geminiani
William Pitt the Elder berates Parliament for treating the public like know-nothings.
By William Pitt the Elder
(1708-1778)

MY lords, I myself am one of the people. I myself am by birth an English elector, and join with the freeholders of England as in a common cause. Believe me, my lords, we mistake our real interest as much as our duty, when we separate ourselves from the mass of the people.

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British Mandatory Palestine
Music: Charles Villiers Stanford
The British had some difficulty fulfilling all the promises made to their wartime Allies.

COLONEL Lawrence promised the Arab royalty who allied with Britain against Turkey in the Great War a united, pan-Arab kingdom in place of Ottoman Syria.

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Violet van der Elst
Music: George Frideric Handel
An eccentric, self-made businesswoman, who ‘made three fortunes and spent five’ in the campaign against the death penalty.

VIOLET Ann Dodge’s first job was as a scullery-maid, but a groundbreaking brushless shaving cream she concocted in her kitchen, Shavex, made her independently wealthy. In 1937, she bought the crumbling Harlaxton Manor, once seriously considered by King Edward VII for his summer retreat.

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AZ Index

See a complete A-Z List of all the stories on this website.

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Sport History’ (12 posts)
page 1
1 ‘My English Joy’
By Sir William Sterndale Bennett
(1816-1875)
In 1837 William Sterndale Bennett, then regarded as England’s most exciting young composer, made history in quite another... field.
2 A Many-Chorded Lyre
By Sir Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji of Nawanagar
(1872-1933)
Stylish batting in cricket is about variety, invention and frankly anything that works, and we have Dr W.G. Grace to thank for it.
3 Hooked
By Sir Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji of Nawanagar
(1872-1933)
The great British public leaves a German tourist speechless during a county match at the Oval in London.
4 Arthur MacPherson
MacPherson’s tireless afforts to promote Russian sport earned him a unique Imperial honour, and the enmity of the Communists.
5 The Aspden Cup
British factory workers started a historic three-cornered league in the Russian city of St Petersburg.
6 Rugby League
The less glamorous code of Rugby football, but the best for sheer speed and strength.
page 2
7 Rebel Rugby
The Nazi-collaborating Vichy government in France paid Rugby League the supreme compliment: they banned it.
8 Ranji
A young Indian student from Cambridge was selected for England’s cricket team after public pressure.
9 Max Woosnam
Max fully deserves his reputation as England’s greatest all-round sportsman.
10 How Britain Brought Football to Chile
British expats in Valparaíso kicked off the Chilean passion for soccer.
11 The Ashes of English Cricket
How the cricketing rivalry between England and Australia got its name.
12 West Auckland, European Champions
A team of amateurs gave Europe’s finest a drubbing.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Subject and Object

Use each of the words below as either the subject or the object of a verb.

Capital. Talk. Strike.

The unsung surveyor from Cheshire, who built railways and made friends across the world.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone explains that a truly ‘exceptional nation’ respects the equality and rights of all nations.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone warns voters not to leave foreign policy in the hands of interventionist politicians.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
George Stephenson won the admiration of French navvies by showing them how a Geordie works a shovel.
Cut
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Polyword ‘Dale’
Make as many words as you can with the letters below. All your words must be at least four letters long, and must also include the highlighted letter. What’s the nine-letter word?

SEE how many words you can make using the letters below. All your words must be at least 4 letters long, and must include the letter (change).

We found commonly used words, plus one 9-letter word. Can you do better?

Use each letter only once. But if there are e.g. two As, you can used them both.

Don’t count proper nouns such as April, Zeus, or Newcastle (pretty much anything that has to be spelled with a capital letter at the start), or acronyms like HMRC.

Don’t just add -S for plurals or third person singular verbs, e.g. CAT → CATS or SPEAK → SPEAKS.

Note: You can find more Polywords and other games on our Nine Lives puzzle page, and most of our stories are accompanied by games with words, grammar and numbers.

More Puzzles
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FLAG and finish with POLE.
Do you know ‘conclusive evidence’ (5 letters), and ‘perceptive realisation’ (6 letters)?
Do you know ‘beg’ (7 letters), and ‘a single game in the sport of darts’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FALL and finish with RISE.
For each of these things, select the most apposite word of praise.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
History (375)
Fiction (80)

letters game

Make words from two or more of the tiles below. What is the highest-scoring word you can make?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

More like this: ‘Scrabble’ letters game Games with Words

numbers game

Work across from the number on the left, applying each arithmetical operation to the previous answer. What’s the final total?

Tip: Click any of the four inner squares to check your running total.

More like this: Maths Steps Mental arithmetic