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Earth is here so kind, that just tickle her with a hoe and she laughs with a harvest.
Douglas William Jerrold (1803-1857)
speaking of Australia
Melbourne Docklands, Australia.
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Discovery and Invention
For February 21st
The first return railway journey
The First Train Journey by Steam
Richard Trevithick’s boss hailed the engineer as a genius. Today he’d have been fired. (Oh, and the train was delayed.)

IN 1803, the owner of the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, Samuel Homfray, brought Richard Trevithick over to South Wales to build a steam-driven hammer for his factory.

Instead, Trevithick mounted his steam engine on wheels and set it running along the factory’s primitive railway.

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No. 1
Charles Villiers Stanford
Music and Musicians
King Edward VII (1901-1910) to King George V (1910-1936)
‘Risoluto’
Despite setback after setback, Stanford was determined to hear his music played in public.
Music by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
(1833-1897)

THE Leeds Festival of 1910 caused a stir with the appearance of Sergei Rachmaninoff as soloist in his own Second Piano Concerto, adding the Russian to a long list of overseas composers brought to England by the conductor, Sir Charles Villiers Stanford.

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No. 2
Alexander Borodin
Lives of the Saints
The Kingdom of Greece (1832-1973)
‘I can walk’
A mother is determined to see that her disabled daughter gets the help she needs.

IT was August, the Feast of the Dormition of Mary, and among the crowds was a mother and her seriously disabled daughter, aged twenty. After the services were over, with the priest’s blessing she tearfully laid her daughter on the marble paving right beneath the icon of Mary, and there day after day they remained, from morning service until late, in unbroken prayer.

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No. 3
Henry Purcell
Stuart Era
King William III (1694-1702)
Long Ben
An English sailor became the target of the first worldwide manhunt following an audacious act of piracy.

IN 1694, Henry Every, a former Master’s mate in the Royal Navy and unlicensed slave trafficker, joined the crew of Sir James Houblon’s merchantman ‘Charles II’. While she was in Corunna, Every masterminded a mutiny, renamed the ship ‘Fancy’, and began a new career as Captain Benjamin Bridgeman, pirate.

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No. 4
Franz Schubert
Music and Musicians
Chopsticks
Ethel Smyth puts on a show for a self-declared music enthusiast.
By Ethel Smyth
(1858-1944)

WHILE travelling with my mother I had been told about a charming newcomer in our neighbourhood whom she had as yet seen little of, but who was said to be very musical and looking forward to meeting the Leipzig daughter.

Knowing what ‘very musical’ amounts to in England expectation did not run high, but on the day she had been asked to lunch I sat down at the piano, just for fun, as her dogcart drew up at the door.

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No. 5
2 two-part story
Johann Baptist Cramer
Extracts from Literature
Experience Does It
Wilkins Micawber had little to give David Copperfield at their parting, save two words of advice.
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

‘MY dear young friend,’ said Mr Micawber, ‘I am older than you; a man of some experience in life, and—and of some experience, in short, in difficulties, generally speaking. At present, and until something turns up (which I am, I may say, hourly expecting), I have nothing to bestow but advice. Still my advice is so far worth taking, that—in short, that I have never taken it myself.’

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No. 6
John Playford
Discovery and Invention
Queen Victoria (1837-1901)
A Bit of Luck for his Lordship
George Stephenson was only too pleased to save the former Prime Minister from himself.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

GEORGE was standing with his back to the fire, when Lord Howick called to see Robert. George began, “Now, my Lord, I know very well what you have come about: it’s that atmospheric line in the north; I will show you in less than five minutes that it can never answer.”

“If Mr Robert Stephenson is not at liberty, I can call again,” said his Lordship.

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No. 7
2 two-part story
Richard Jones
Lives of the Saints
The Vision of St Fursey
Fursey was a 7th-century Irish monk whose visions of the afterlife made a great impression on St Bede.

AN elder in the monastery of St Paul in Jarrow, so Bede tells us, once met a man who knew St Fursey, the Irishman who established a monastery in East Anglia in the 630s, and was famous for his visions.

Bede learnt how back in Ireland, Fursey had fallen ill and had a near-death experience in which he was led as if to heaven’s gate.

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No. 8
Muzio Clementi
Liberty and Prosperity
King George III (1760-1820)
Free Trade, Free Peoples
Oldham’s firebrand MP William Cobbett rips into the the City of London for blocking economic and political progress in India.
By William Cobbett
(1762-1835)

SIR William Curtis, during this debate, expressed his fears that a free trade to India might cause the introduction of political freedom. “If a free trade to India were once allowed, among other exports, they would probably soon have a variety of politicians, who would use their best endeavours to give the Hindus a conception of the Rights of Man.” A most alarming thought, to be sure!

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No. 9
Sir Arthur Sullivan
Character and Conduct
Queen Victoria (1837-1901)
All that Glisters is not Gold
Henry Mayhew, co-founder of ‘Punch’, tells two anecdotes about the Victorian cabbie.
By Henry Mayhew
(1812-1887)

IMPRANSUS Jones did a neat thing the other day. He got into a cab, when, after a bit, he recollected that he had no money, or chance of borrowing any. He suddenly checked the driver in a great hurry, and said he had dropped a sovereign in the straw. He told the cabman that he would go to a friend’s a few doors off and get a light.

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No. 10
Polywords (185)
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Latest: Grey
Added on Thursday February 15th, 2018
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.

About our calendars

Today in History
1804 A steam locomotive built by Richard Trevithick makes the first return railway journey
From our Archive
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
Charles Dickens explains the thinking behind Jesus Christ’s choice of friends.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
It is not educational institutions and methods that advance science or the arts, but people.
French revolutionaries in a fleet of four ships attempted to spark a revolution in Britain.
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
The eighth-century English bishop and poet Cynewulf explores a prophecy from the Song of Solomon.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
The extraordinary productivity and social mobility of the Victorian era is to the credit not of the governing class, but of the working man.

A to Z Index

Top Topics
History (416)
Polywords (185)
Georgian Era (113)
Fiction (85)
Quickwords (46)
Doublets (34)
Railways (24)
Triplets (23)
Stuart Era (18)
India (14)
Tudor Era (11)
Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Roar’
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 ‘popular Asian chilled fruit drink’ (7 letters), and ‘bear witness’ (6 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FLAG and finish with POLE.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.