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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.

Sir Titus Salt
two-part story
Music: Felix Mendelssohn; Sir George Macfarren
His alpaca-wool mills near Bradford proved the social benefits of private enterprise in the right hands.

ON a trip to Liverpool, shortly after taking over his father’s wool business in 1833, Titus Salt stumbled across some bales of alpaca-wool, then little-known in England. His father forbade him to buy them, but he did, and by 1850 his business had outgrown its Bradford premises.

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Three Posts
Richard Arkwright
Arkwright invented the factory, without which modern life would be impossible.

SIR Richard Arkwright was a leading figure in the industrial revolution of the 18th century, whose textile machines and mills established the basis of the factory system.

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Fashionable Freedom
Music: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Josiah Wedgwood’s promotional gift made Abolitionism fashionable.
By Thomas Clarkson
(1760-1846)

NOR was the philanthropy of the late Mr. Wedgwood less instrumental in turning the popular feeling in our favour. He took the seal of the committee for his model, and produced a beautiful cameo.

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The Tea-Cup Revolutionary
Music: John Field
Josiah Wedgwood brought about a quiet revolution in English society.

A NASTY bout of smallpox when he was eleven left Josiah Wedgwood so lame that he could not work the pedal of a potter’s wheel.

But pottery was all he knew, so in 1759 he turned from manufacture to innovation, employing others for design and production, and burying himself in the chemistry of his trade.

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AZ Index

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

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Classical History’ (24 posts)
page 1
1 The Golden Age of Carausius
A Roman commander facing court martial took refuge in politics, and for ten years London was an imperial capital.
2 A Pyrrhic Victory
By Plutarch
(AD 46-120)
The ancient Greek King knew victory had cost his army more than it could afford to lose.
3 The Rewards of Treachery
By Marcus Tullius Cicero
(106-43 BC)
Cicero warns those who seek power through civic unrest that they will never be the beneficiaries of it.
4 St Helen Finds the True Cross
Based on ‘Elene’ by Cynewulf
(8th century)
The mother of the Roman Emperor goes to Jerusalem on a quest close to her heart.
5 Xerxes Scourges the Hellespont
By Herodotus
(?484-?425 BC)
The Persian King felt that a lord of his majesty should not have to take any nonsense from an overgrown river.
6 Boudica
British sympathy for Roman imperial progress evaporated when officials began asset-stripping the country.
page 2
7 St George the Triumphant Martyr
One of the Emperor Galerius’s most trusted generals openly defied him.
8 ‘Stand out of my Sunshine!’
By Plutarch
(AD 45-120)
Alexander the Great dropped a hint to his sycophantic entourage.
9 Alcibiades
In the populist democracy of 5th-century BC Athens, heroes fell as quickly as they rose.
10 Pericles and the Fickle Public of Athens
The leader of 5th-century BC Athens lavished public money on the city and its adoring citizens.
11 The Last Days of Socrates
Socrates was placed on death row while Athens celebrated a religious festival.
12 The Battle of Marathon
Remembered as the inspiration of the famous Olympic road race, but much more important than that.
page 3
13 First Contact
Julius Caesar came over from France expecting to silence the noisy neighbours, but things did not go according to plan.
14 The Season of ‘Goodwill’
‘Goodwill’ was on everyone’s lips, but the Roman Emperor and the God of Israel had very different ideas about it.
15 Keep away from the Games!
From ‘Letters to Lucilius’ by Seneca the Younger
(?4BC-?AD65)
The wise old philosopher had learnt that popular entertainments rot the soul.
16 The Speech of King Caratacus
By Cornelius Tacitus
(AD 56-117)
A proud British king, taken to Rome as a trophy of Empire, refused to plead for his life.
17 A Battle of Wills
Based on ‘A Book of Golden Deeds’ by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
Two strong and determined men refused to back down.
18 A Man called ‘Beta’
For a perennial ‘runner-up’, Eratosthenes had a peculiar knack of being first.
page 4
19 Hannibal’s Passage of the Alps
Hannibal’s crossing of the Alps with nearly 50,000 men and 38 elephants is the stuff of legend.
20 A Bird in the Hand is Worth...
From ‘History of the Wars’ by Procopius of Caesarea
(c.500—c.560)
The Roman Emperor Honorius, so the story goes, had more on his mind than the impending sack of one of Europe’s iconic cities.
21 The Battle of Ynys Mon
Based on an account by Cornelius Tacitus
(AD 56-117)
Suetonius Paulinus, Governor of Britain, hoped to enhance his reputation.
22 Horatius at the Bridge
Based on a story by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
Horatius Cocles was the last man standing between Rome’s republic and the return of totalitarian government in 509 BC.
23 The Last Gladiator
The people of Rome suddenly turned their back on centuries of ‘sport’ - all because of one harmless old man.
24 The Battle of Salamis
Defeat for the Greeks would have changed the course of Western civilization.

Word Play: Active or Passive?

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

Coast. Bear. Leave.

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 ‘Leave’
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
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with SPIT and finish with FIRE.
Do you know ‘a river, part of the Bristol-London waterway’ (6 letters), and ‘e.g. D minor’ (3 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
Do you know ‘conscientious’ (7 letters), and ‘unreturned serve’ (3 letters)?
Do you know ‘amusing play on words’ (3 letters), and ‘leaf of a pine tree’ (6 letters)?
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.

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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.

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