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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.

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The Partridge and the Cockerels
Music: Franz Joseph Haydn
It’s hard when messed-up people treat you badly, but if you take it personally it only makes it worse.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

ONE day a man who kept cockerels was busy about his yard when a salesman came to the gate and offered him a tame partridge. So he bought it, and let it fend for itself among his other birds.

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Five Posts
The Lion and the Mouse
Music: Alice Mary Smith
A casual act of mercy brought an unexpected reward.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

A LION who had caught a mouse was on the point of eating it, when the little rascal spoke up.

‘Your proper prey is deer’ he squeaked crossly, ‘and creatures with horns. A meal of mouse would be no more than a grain of salt on your lips.’

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The Fox and the Grapes
Music: Edward German
Some people disparage what they can’t have.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

A FOX was padding about a vineyard in the mountains, when he spotted some bunches of grapes hanging from a trellis.

He scampered over to them, as they were ripe and deep black, harvested in peak condition by someone who knew his business.

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The Eagle, the Jackdaw, and the Shepherd
Music: Jean-Baptiste Krumpholz
An over-excited jackdaw goes out of his league, and pays the price.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

ONCE upon a time, a mighty eagle swooped down from his lofty stone perch, and carried off a lamb.

A jackdaw watched it with rising envy, until he was so overcome with the desire to imitate him that, with a great whirring of wings, he landed on a full-grown ram, and promptly got tangled up in its fleece.

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The Farmer and the Buried Treasure
Music: Francesco Geminiani
An affectionate father came up with an imaginative way to get his sons to work on the farm.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

A FARMER who lay upon his deathbed wanted his sons to be able to take good care of themselves and the family vineyard after he was gone. But they had managed to avoid getting any hands-on experience of farming.

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The Fox and the Bramble
Music: George Frideric Handel
A fox tries to save herself from a fall, but finds she would have been better off taking the tumble.
Based on a fable by
Aesop of Samos

A VIXEN who was clambering over a fence found herself slipping, so to avoid a fall she reached out and grabbed at a nearby bush. But the bush was a bramble, and it cut her paws and made them bleed.

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Tagged ‘Edwardian Era’ (12 posts)
page 1
1 Arthur MacPherson
MacPherson’s tireless afforts to promote Russian sport earned him a unique Imperial honour, and the enmity of the Communists.
2 The Aspden Cup
British factory workers started a historic three-cornered league in the Russian city of St Petersburg.
3 Hyder Ali and Tipu
The British encountered no stouter resistance in India than Mysore’s gifted commmander Hyder Ali and his son, Tipu.
4 Mysore’s Golden Age
The Princely State of Mysore (today in Karnataka) was hailed as an example of good governance to all the world.
5 Benno Moiseiwitsch
One of the twentieth century’s greatest pianists, who put himself and his art at the service of his adopted country.
6 The Boer Wars
South African settlers of Dutch descent could not escape the march of the British Empire.
page 2
7 ‘Risoluto’
Music by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford
(1833-1897)
Despite setback after setback, Stanford was determined to hear his music played in public.
8 The Man who Made the Headlines
William Stead conceived modern print journalism in the belief that newspapers could change the world.
9 West Auckland, European Champions
A team of amateurs gave Europe’s finest a drubbing.
10 The Fleming Valve
A Victorian children’s book inspired the birth of modern electronics.
11 ‘Nimrod’
Music by Edward Elgar
(1857-1934)
Edward Elgar suffered from depression, and ‘Nimrod’ is his token of thanks to the true friend who supported him through it.
12 Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Music by Samuel Coleridge Taylor
(1875-1912)
A gifted composer of classical music in the romantic tradition, admired by Stanford, Elgar, and Sullivan.

Word Play: Verb or Noun?

Use each of the words below once as a noun and once as a verb:

Ship. Bed. Offer.

New Stories
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.
To the poor of England, the Worcestershire man gave affordable pots and pans, and to all the world he gave the industrial revolution.
After Louis XIV’s grandson Philip inherited the throne of Spain, the ‘Sun King’ began to entertain dreams of Europe-wide dominion.
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 ‘Rain’
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 ‘amusing play on words’ (3 letters), and ‘leaf of a pine tree’ (6 letters)?
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Do you know ‘cowardly’ (6 letters), and ‘historic Greek victory in 479 BC’ (7 letters)?
Decide whether a word is a verb or a noun (or both), and compose example sentences.
A word-making game based on the popular TV show.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
History (359)
Fiction (77)

letters game

What is the longest word you can make using these letters?

Press enter or type a space to see feedback on your word.

More like this: ‘Countdown’ 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