All Posts (677)
Nos 11 to 20
1 2 3 4 68
2 two-part story
Antonio Vivaldi
The Second World War
King George VI (1936-1952)
The Girl in the Barn
Ten British POWs in German-occupied Poland decide to help a young Jewish woman escape the SS and a death march to the sea.

ONE chill day in January 1945, a farm labourer went into a barn a few miles from Gdansk, and his eyes fell on an emaciated seventeen-year-old girl dressed in rags, and lying in a trough. “Are you Polish?” she whispered, between hope and fear. “No!” came the reassuring reply. “I’m British”.

Continue reading
No. 11
11 eleven-part story
George Frideric Handel
Tales from the Bible
The Story of Moses
Jochebed hides her baby son from Pharaoh’s soldiers, only for him to be discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter.

IN the days of the ancient Pharaohs, a Hebrew named Joseph brought his father Jacob, surnamed Israel, and all his family to Egypt, where Joseph was a great man. But over time, the Pharaohs began to resent these ever more numerous children of Israel. At first they used them as forced labour, building their temples and cities, but at last Pharaoh ordered every newborn Hebrew boy slain.

Continue reading
No. 12
Gustav Holst
Lives of the Saints
Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh
Abbot Elfric unpacks the meaning of the gifts of the Three Wise Men.
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)

THESE three astrologers came and offered him symbolic gifts. Gold symbolised that he is true King; frankincense that he is true God; and myrrh that, though he now lives immortal evermore, he was mortal then.

Some heretics believed he was God, but not that he reigned anywhere: they offered frankincense to Christ spiritually, but would not offer gold.

Continue reading
No. 13
2 two-part story
Thomas Arne
Music and Musicians
King George I (1714-1727) to King George II (1727-1760)
Caught in the Act
Young Thomas Arne goes to extreme lengths to conceal his musical talent from his family.
By Charles Burney
(1726-1814)

HIS love for Music operated upon him too powerfully, even while he was at Eton, for his own peace or that of his companions; for with a miserable cracked common-flute, he used to torment them night and day. When he left Eton he used to avail himself of the privilege of a servant, by borrowing a livery and going into the upper gallery of the opera, which was then appropriated to domestics.

Continue reading
No. 14
Charles Avison
Discovery and Invention
King George III (1760-1820)
Spinning Jenny
James Hargreaves’s historic invention was not without its critics when it first appeared.

IN the 1760s, John Kay’s new ‘flying shuttle’ looms allowed Colchester’s weavers to double their output. More cloth at lower prices promised full order-books and new jobs across the textile industry, but spinning was still a laborious handicraft, and could not supply enough yarn. The looms fell silent, and unemployed weavers smashed them, sending Kay in fear to Paris.

Continue reading
No. 15
2 two-part story
Anonymous and John Dowland
Tudor Era
Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603)
The Ridolfi Plot
The Pope and the King of Spain decide that the time has come to rid England of her troublesome Queen, Elizabeth I.

IN 1568, King Philip II of Spain borrowed £400,000 from Genoa to fund his government of the Spanish Netherlands, and help the Governor, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba, to reinvigorate the Inquisition there.

But as Philip’s ships entered the Channel, French Huguenots came to the aid of their Dutch neighbours and drove the ships to port in England. Elizabeth impounded Philip’s gold for her Treasury, the latest in a series of provocations by the English Queen.

Continue reading
No. 16
Thomas Morley
Tudor Era
Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603)
Asylum Christi
Samuel Smiles explains how Tudor England was transformed from sleepy backwater to hive of industry.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

THE religious persecutions of Philip II of Spain and of Charles IX of France shortly supplied England with the population of which she stood in need — active, industrious, intelligent artisans. Philip set up the Inquisition in Flanders, and the Duchess of Parma, writing to Philip II in 1567, informed him that in a few days above 100,000 men had already left the country with their money and goods, and that more were following every day.

Continue reading
No. 17
Muzio Clementi
Discovery and Invention
King George III (1760-1820)
Not for Sale
Sir Humphry Davy pleads with Britain’s scientists not to be bought by Napoleon’s gold.
By Sir Humphry Davy
(1778-1829)

SCIENCE for its progression requires patronage, - but it must be a patronage bestowed, a patronage received, with dignity. It must be preserved independent. It can bear no fetters, not even fetters of gold, and least of all those fetters in which ignorance or selfishness may attempt to shackle it.

Continue reading
No. 18
2 two-part story
George Frideric Handel
The Second World War
King George VI (1936-1952)
‘Please Respect our Traditions’
Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens took his wartime protest straight to the top.

DIMITRIS Papandreou was elected Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens in 1938. At that time, Greece was under a state of emergency declared by Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas, whose Fascist sympathies Damaskinos emphatically did not share. The appointment was blocked, and Damaskinos was kept under house arrest in Salamina until the Germans came in 1941.

Continue reading
No. 19
John Foulds
Character and Conduct
Queen Victoria (1837-1901)
The Absent Minded Conquerors
Sir John Seeley urged us to cherish our close ties to India and other nations beyond Europe.
By Sir John Seeley
(1834-1895)

WE seem to have conquered and peopled half the world in a fit of absence of mind. While we were doing it, we did not allow it to affect our imaginations or in any degree to change our ways of thinking; nor have we even now ceased to think of ourselves as simply a race inhabiting an island off the northern coast of the Continent of Europe.

Continue reading
No. 20
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

From our Archive
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Pauline de Meulan’s magazine Publiciste was close to going out of business when an anonymous contributor stepped in.
It started as an honest mistake, became a diplomatic standoff, and brought down an Empire.
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)
For Jane Austen, the best education a father can give to his child is to befriend her.
A political rival sends Jason on a hopeless errand, to fetch the golden fleece.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Benjamin Disraeli did not make a promising start to his Parliamentary career - but he did start with a promise.

A to Z Index

Top Topics
History (414)
Polywords (185)
Georgian Era (113)
Fiction (85)
Quickwords (46)
Doublets (34)
Railways (24)
Triplets (23)
Stuart Era (17)
India (14)
Tudor Era (11)
Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Rock’
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 ‘beg’ (7 letters), and ‘a single game in the sport of darts’ (3 letters)?
Change ROCK into SALT, one letter at a time.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.