’Tis not in mortals to command success,
But we’ll do more, Sempronius; we’ll deserve it.
Joseph Addison (1672-1719)
‘Cato: A Tragedy’
A puffin (fratercula-arctica) taking off in the Farne Islands, Northumberland.
Stories
Puzzles
13 thirteen-part story
Thomas Arne and Edvard Grieg and Jean-Baptiste Lully and ten more
For November 23rd
The death of King Edred
Kings and Queens: Alfred to Ethelred
England’s rulers from the only one named ‘the Great’, to the king who lost his crown to the Danes.

THE first steps towards a Kingdom of England were taken by Alfred the Great, King of Wessex on the south coast.

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No. 1
2 two-part story
Muzio Clementi
The Story of ‘Oliver Twist’
Fate and a vicious professional thief named Fagin conspire to trap orphan Oliver Twist into a life of crime.
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

OLIVER TWIST was an orphan from birth, and left in the unsympathetic care of a government Workhouse.

As soon as he was old enough, he was sent to work for an undertaker, a miserable existence from which he escaped by running away to London.

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No. 2
2 two-part story
James Hook
An Easy Life
Mr Easy believes he has missed out on fatherhood, and having nothing else to do, turns to political campaigning.
By Frederick Marryat
(1792-1848)

MR Nicodemus Easy was a gentleman who lived down in Hampshire; he was a married man, and in very easy circumstances. Most couples find it very easy to have a family, but not always quite so easy to maintain them. Mr Easy was not at all uneasy on the latter score, as he had no children; but he was anxious to have them, as most people covet what they cannot obtain.

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No. 3
2 two-part story
George Frideric Handel
Gideon’s Fleece
Gideon is chosen by God to save Israel from the Midianites, but doubts his fitness for the task.

NOT long after the Israelites escaped from Egypt and settled in Canaan, their new home was invaded by the Kingdom of Midian. For seven years their crops and herds were destroyed or seized by the invaders, but the greatest indignity they suffered was that altars and groves sacred to Baal, the Midianites’ imaginary god, were set up on their lands, and there was just such a grove on the lands of Joash.

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No. 4
Gustav Holst
Say ‘Shibboleth!’
Jephthah’s sentries at the crossings of Jordan devise a fool-proof way to tell friend from foe.

JEPHTHAH lived in Gilead on the east bank of the Jordan. When the Kingdom of Ammon, which lay still further east, made an assault on Israel, he emerged as a great warrior. But the elders of the tribe of Ephraim resented Gilead going it alone, as they saw it, and though Jephthah reminded them that they had ignored his pleas for help, still they threatened to destroy his home and family. Soon Gilead and Ephraim were at war.

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No. 5
2 two-part story
George Frideric Handel
Gideon Recruits an Army
Gideon prepares to drive the Midianites out of Israel, but first he has to make it a fair fight.

BUT Gideon’s father Joash defied the city councillors. He told them that if Baal felt offended, he must fight his own wars; Joash would not give up his son. The row escalated, and before long a Midianite army had encamped in the valley of Jezreel, and Gideon had gathered loyal men from Manasseh and other neighbouring tribes, ready for battle.

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No. 6
2 two-part story
George Frideric Handel
Gideon’s Snare
While spying out the enemy’s camp, Gideon hears something which fills him with renewed confidence.

DRIVING the Midianites from Manasseh and other tribes of Israel was weary, hungry work for just three hundred men, and not everyone was appreciative. The Ephraimites complained that although Gideon relied on them to capture some of the Midianite leaders, he had not invited them to join the fight from the start.

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No. 7
John Field
Mark Antony Catches a Kipper
The surprisingly sensitive Roman commander was hoping to impress a girl with his angling skills.
By Plutarch
(?46-120)

HE was fishing once, and had bad luck, and was vexed at it because Cleopatra was there to see. He therefore ordered his fishermen to dive down and secretly fasten to his hook some fish that had been previously caught, and pulled up two or three of them.

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No. 8
Ralph Vaughan Williams
Edith Cavell
The experienced nurse could not stop saving lives, even at the cost of her own.

IN 1907 Edith Cavell, a forty-two-year-old nurse and former governess, went to Belgium to help Dr Antoine Depage establish a training school for nurses. Within four years, she had three hospitals and over thirty schools under her care, and had founded a new medical journal.

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No. 9
John Tavener
The Day of ‘No’
On October 28th, 1940, the Kingdom of Greece surprised everyone by refusing to become part of the German war machine.

IN the small hours of October 28th, 1940, the Italian Ambassador to Greece, Emanuele Grazzi, was at the German Embassy in Athens, following a party. As the clock struck four, he presented the Greek Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas with an ultimatum from the Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

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No. 10
Polywords (178)
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Latest: Grebe
Added on Monday November 20th, 2017
Doublets (34)
Turn one word into another, changing just one letter each time.
Latest: Stardust
Quickwords (46)
A mini-crossword of everyday vocabulary and general knowledge.
Triplets (23)
Find one common letter that will turn three words into three new ones.
Latest: Triplet No. 23
Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
See how ingenious you can be in combining three randomly chosen words in one sentence.
Compose sentences showing the difference in meaning, grammar or usage between these words.
Practise your basic arithmetic, from multiplation tables to percentages.
Latest: Target Number
Take command of English grammar and composition with these traditional exercises.
Latest: Letters Game
A word search game with a dash of strategy.
Today in History
955 King Edred of England, son of King Edward the Elder and younger brother of King Edmund, died in Frome, Somerset, after nine years on the throne
From our Archive
Naaman had very fixed ideas about what it takes to get a miracle.
The East India Company installed Mir Kasim as Nawab of Bengal, only to find that he had a mind of his own.
Stephen was the first person to lose his life because he was a follower of Jesus Christ.
A Cornish professor of chemistry with a poetic turn who helped make science a popular fashion.
John Kapodistrias had an instinct for how a long-oppressed people might think.

A to Z Index

Top Topics
History (477)
Polywords (178)
Fiction (123)
Georgian Era (113)
Quickwords (46)
Doublets (34)
Railways (30)
Triplets (23)
Stuart Era (20)
Tudor Era (11)
Polyword ‘Curl’
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.

More Word Games
A word search game with a dash of strategy.
Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
Do you know ‘rim’ (4 letters), and ‘the Roman name for Chester’ (4 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with ASH and finish with OAK.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.