famous (adj.)
Let us now praise famous men, and our fathers that begat us.
Ecclesiasticus 44:1
Thomas Clarkson, Anti-Slavery Convention (1840). By Benjamin Haydon (1786-1845), via Wikimedia Commons.
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english language and history .com
two-minute tales and exercises for work in grammar and composition
UK summer time

English Language and History .com is a collection of two-minute tales drawn from history, myth and fiction. Each tale is accompanied by word games testing grammar and expression, based on textbooks used in British schools from the 1920s to the 1960s.

Judicial Iniquity
Music: Charles Villiers Stanford
John Stuart Mill reminds us that governments and the courts must never be allowed to criminalise matters of belief or opinion.
By John Stuart Mill
(1806-1873)

BORN in an age and country abounding in individual greatness, this man [Socrates] has been handed down to us by those who best knew both him and the age, as the most virtuous man in it; while we know him as the head and prototype of all subsequent teachers of virtue, the source equally of the lofty inspiration of Plato and the judicious utilitarianism of Aristotle, the two headsprings of ethical as of all other philosophy.

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Six Posts
The Hobbit
two-part story
Music: Sir William Sterndale Bennett; York Bowen
Tolkien’s tale of dragons, magic rings and enchanted gold is one of the masterpieces of English literature.
Based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
(1892-1973)

THORIN, a proud king among dwarves, was heir to a kingdom deep beneath the Lonely Mountain, and to the vast treasure within. However, the dragon Smaug was now lying on that treasure, and as warriors were rare, Thorin was looking for a burglar to help him steal it.

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Francesco Geminiani
Music: Francesco Geminiani
The most brilliant violinist of his generation, whose finely-crafted compositions showed off bravura and spoke tenderness.

‘THE intention of musick’, wrote Francesco Geminiani in 1751, ‘is not only to please the ear, but to express sentiments, strike the imagination, affect the mind, and command the passions’. He had spent the last thirty-seven years doing just that, delighting audiences from London to Dublin and the near Continent.

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In Good Company
two-part story
Music: Muzio Clementi
Anne Elliot resents being expected to court the society of anyone simply because of social status.
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)

LADY Dalrymple had acquired the name of ‘a charming woman,’ because she had a smile and a civil answer for everybody. Miss Carteret, with still less to say, was so plain and so awkward, that she would never have been tolerated in Camden Place but for her birth.

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Kanguru!
Music: James Hook
James Cook describes his first sight of a beloved Australian icon.

I SAW myself this morning, a little way from the ship, one of the animals before spoke of; it was of a light mouse colour and the full size of a greyhound, and shaped in every respect like one, with a long tail, which it carried like a greyhound; in short, I should have taken it for a wild dog but for its walking or running, in which it jumped like a hare or deer.

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Honourable Mr Fox
Music: Thomas Linley the Younger
The colourful Foreign Secretary humbly accepted a lesson in manners from a local tradesman.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

THE story is told of a tradesman calling upon him one day for the payment of a promissory note which he presented. Fox was engaged at the time in counting out gold. The tradesman asked to be paid from the money before him. “No,” said Fox, “I owe this money to Sheridan; it is a debt of honour.”

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The Cats of Harrison Weir
Music: Frank Bridge
A Victorian artist and avid bird-watcher banished cats from his country cottage, but soon wished he hadn’t.

THE world’s first cat show, held at London’s Crystal Palace in 1871, was organised by Harrison Weir, artist, illustrator and bird-watcher.

Harrison had learnt drawing and engraving under George Baxter, the pioneer of commercial colour printing. As songbirds were a favourite subject, later on he bought himself a country cottage so he could observe them from his window. Cats, reluctantly, were forbidden.

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AZ Index

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

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘George Stephenson’ (10 posts)
page 1
1 A Monument to Liberty
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Samuel Smiles explains why the London and Birmingham Railway was an achievement superior to the Great Pyramid of Giza.
2 The Rainhill Trials
To prove that steam power was the future of railways, George Stephenson held a truly historic competition.
3 The London and Birmingham Railway
The textile moguls of Manchester and Liverpool engaged the Stephensons to complete their link to the capital.
4 Burning Daylight
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
George Stephenson argued that his steam engines were solar-powered.
5 The Hetton Railway
The railway earned a special place in history as the first to be designed for steam locomotives only.
6 The Stockton and Darlington Railway
George Stephenson and his son Robert created the world’s first passenger railway.
page 2
7 The Gift of the Gab
There was one form of power that self-taught engineering genius George Stephenson never harnessed.
8 The Bully and the Brakesman
A young George Stephenson takes responsibility for the team spirit at Black Callerton mine.
9 The Geordie Lamp
Based on an account by Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
The engineer put his own life on the line for the safety of his fellow-workers in the coal industry.
10 The Character of George Stephenson
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
A self-made man who never forgot his humble beginnings.

Word Play: Active or Passive?

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

Hear. Shall. Please.

New Stories
By John Stuart Mill
(1806-1873)
John Stuart Mill reminds us that governments and the courts must never be allowed to criminalise matters of belief or opinion.
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
Charles Dickens sketches for us the shyly ingratiating youth who gets himself in a tangle in the presence of Beauty.
The only truly global conflict in history began when German troops crossed into Poland in September 1939.
By Richard Cobden
(1804-1865)
Richard Cobden questioned both the wisdom and the motives of politicians who intervene on foreign soil.
New Puzzles
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.
Try writing complete sentences using these nouns as either the subject or the object of a verb.
Try writing complete sentences using these verbs in either the active or the passive voice.
Polyword ‘Mouse’
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 London (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 Puzzles
Work out these percentages in your head. See how quickly you can solve the sums.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FALL and finish with RISE.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with SHEEP and finish with FLOCK.
Do you know ‘wheedle’ (6 letters), and ‘engine-driver’s compartment’ (3 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
History (360)
Fiction (78)

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

Make the total shown using two or more of the numbers underneath it. You can add, subtract, divide and multiply. Use any number once only.

More like this: Maths Gym Mental arithmetic