Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us.
Ecclesiasticus 44:1
Thomas Clarkson,
Anti-Slavery Convention (1840).
Stories
Puzzles
Mediaeval History
For November 25th
The White Ship Disaster
The Disaster of the White Ship
The loss of the heir to the throne threw England into crisis.

IN 1120, when William Adelin was sixteen, his father King Henry I took him across the Channel to be married to Matilda of Anjou, daughter of a powerful rival in northern France.

After the wedding, Henry went on ahead, leaving his son to sail home in the White Ship, the newest and fastest vessel in the royal fleet.

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No. 1
2 two-part story
Edward Elgar
Greek and Roman Myths
Heracles and the Garden of the Hesperides
Two of Heracles’s labours are declared void, so to make up the number he is sent to find the Garden of the Hesperides.

WITH the cattle of Geryon, Heracles thought he had completed the ten labours appointed by the oracle. But Eurystheus judged that Heracles had had help with the Hydra and the Augean stables, and they did not count.

Instead, Heracles was commissioned to bring home three apples from a sacred tree growing the Garden of the Hesperides, daughters of the Night.

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No. 2
2 two-part story
James Hook
Extracts from Literature
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
Gustav Holst
Tales from the Bible
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. 4
2 two-part story
George Frideric Handel
Tales from the Bible
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. 5
2 two-part story
George Frideric Handel
Tales from the Bible
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
Tales from the Bible
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
Classical History
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
The Great War
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 Second World War
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
1120 The Disaster of the White Ship
From our Archive
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)
The sounds of an English country Christmas helped Tennyson in his deep mourning for an old friend.
The wandering King was alive after all - unknown to his “widow’s” suitors.
By Sir Winston S. Churchill
(1874-1965)
As a last, desperate throw of the dice in the Great War, the Germans detonated an unusual kind of weapon in St Petersburg.
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)
Anne Elliot resents being expected to court the society of anyone simply because of social status.
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
Cuthbert trusted that keeping his promised fast would not do him any harm.

A to Z Index

Top Topics
History (387)
Polywords (178)
Georgian Era (102)
Fiction (83)
Quickwords (46)
Doublets (34)
Railways (23)
Triplets (23)
Stuart Era (14)
Polyword ‘Dew’
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 SHEEP and finish with FLOCK.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.