elicit (vb)
The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there.
John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir (1875-1940), ‘Montrose and Leadership’ (1930)
Ottawa, Canada. By Mr Drake, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain.
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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 Battle of Ynys Mon
Suetonius Paulinus, Governor of Britain, hoped to enhance his reputation.
Based on an account by Cornelius Tacitus
(AD 56-117)

IN Suetonius’s opinion, the chief threat to Roman rule in Britain came from the Welsh tribes and the Druids. He would discover that this was a mistake, but in the meantime, he bent his attention on the Island of Mona, just off the Welsh coast, which had become their stronghold.

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The Founding of Australia
Music: Percy Grainger
Within little more than half a century a British penal colony turned into a prosperous, free-trade democracy.

BY 1776, a thousand convicts each year were being spared the gallows and transported to the American colonies, a practice begun in 1614, but abruptly ended by the American Declaration of Independence.

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The Princess on the Pea
Music: English Folksong
A fastidious prince felt he deserved a girl of royal refinement, and he certainly found one.
Based on a fable by Hans Christian Andersen
(1805-1875)

ONCE upon a time, a prince decided to find himself a princess, or rather (as he told himself) a real princess.

For the princesses of the neighbouring kingdoms were not at all what he imagined a princess should be, and soon he was quite discouraged.

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St Chad and the Invisible Choir
Music: George Frideric Handel
Chad, the seventh-century Bishop of Mercia, seemed to be making a lot of music for one man.

BROTHER Owen was busy digging near Chad’s private oratory, when he heard the sound of many voices singing. That puzzled him: the Abbot, he knew, was praying alone, and everyone else away on errands. Moreover, the sound was coming from across fields to the southeast.

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Heracles and the Cretan Bull
Music: Richard Jones
Heracles seems to be the only one who can keep Poseidon’s rampaging white bull under control.

WHEN King Minos of Crete promised to sacrifice to Poseidon whatever should next emerge from the sea, Poseidon kindly sent him a superb white bull. Minos, however, could not bring himself to destroy so magnificent a beast, so he kept it for himself and substituted another from his own herds.

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St Cuthbert and the Otters
Music: Sir William Sterndale Bennett
An inquisitive monk spied on a guest’s night-time walks.
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)

IT was Cuthbert’s habit to walk alone down to the seashore after dark. Intrigued, one of the monks followed him at a discreet distance, hoping to see what it was that Cuthbert did at dead of night.

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AZ Index

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

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Abolition of Slavery’ (15 posts)
page 1
1 An Incorrigible Fanatic
By William Wilberforce
(1759-1833)
William Wilberforce told Parliament that the more his opponents slandered him, the more he was sure he was winning.
2 A Selfish Liberty
By Frederick Douglass
(1818-1895)
American anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass contrasts two kinds of ‘nationalist’.
3 Douglass in Britain
Frederick Douglass, the American runaway slave turned Abolitionist, spent some of his happiest days in Britain.
4 Douglass’s Debt
By Frederick Douglass
(1818-1895)
British statesmen were among those who inspired the career of one of America’s greatest men, Frederick Douglass.
5 How Britain Abolished Slavery
The Church’s campaigns against slavery were boosted by competition for labour after the Black Death.
6 The Obstinacy of Fowell Buxton
Fatherless teenage tearaway Fowell Buxton was not a promising boy, but the Gurney family changed all that.
page 2
7 How Liberating the Slaves also Clothed the Poor
Based on an article by Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
The closure of slave plantations following the Abolition of Slavery Act in 1833 had a curious side-effect.
8 David Livingstone
The Scottish missionary and medic believed that slavery could better be eradicated by trade than by force.
9 The Bombardment of Algiers
For two centuries, human traffickers had stolen English men, women and children for the slave-markets of the Arab world.
10 The Case of Jonathan Strong
Granville Sharp and his surgeon brother William rescued a young African man from the streets of London.
11 The Anglo-Zanzibar War
It lasted barely forty minutes, but it brought slavery to an end in the little island territory.
12 Fashionable Freedom
By Thomas Clarkson
(1760-1846)
Josiah Wedgwood’s promotional gift made Abolitionism fashionable.
page 3
13 The Persistence of Thomas Clarkson
Today, the slave trade is a £150bn global business. Back in the late 18th century, it was making a lot of influential people very rich too, but some in England were determined to stop it.
14 In the Nick of Time
Thomas Lewis was rescued from slavery with only minutes to spare.
15 Somersett’s Case
James Somersett’s new Christian family used every available means to keep him from slavery.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Active or Passive?

Use each of the verbs below in either the active or the passive form. Can you use both forms?

Question. Change. Own.

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 ‘Rapid Transit’
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
Do you know ‘additional’ (5), and ‘reject contemptuously’ (5)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FLAG and finish with POLE.
Do you know ‘situation of a golf ball’ (3 letters), and ‘the capital of the State of New York’ (6 letters)?
Create your own sentences using one or more of the three words given.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FOAL and finish with MARE.
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