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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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Germany’s Secret Weapon
Music: Sergei Rachmaninoff
As a last, desperate throw of the dice in the Great War, the Germans detonated an unusual kind of weapon in St Petersburg.
By Sir Winston S. Churchill
(1874-1965)

THE Czar had abdicated on March 15, 1917. The statesmen of the Allied nations affected to believe that all was for the best and that the Russian revolution constituted a notable advantage for the common cause.

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Two Posts
Winston Churchill’s Final Journey
Music: George Frideric Handel
The heroic and charismatic statesman’s last journey was replete with echoes of his extraordinary life.

SIR Winston Churchill, appointed Prime Minister in 1940 to lead Britain’s successful war effort against the Nazis, died on January 24, 1965, aged 90.

He was to be buried in Bladon, a village near Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire where Churchill was born in 1874.

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The Massacre at Amritsar
Music: Frederic Hymen Cowen
After one of the worst outrages in modern British history, Winston Churchill made sure there was no cover-up.

ON 13th April 1919, thousands of Sikhs crowded into the Jallianwala Bagh [i.e. garden, park] in Amritsar, Punjab, on their harvest festival.

The Punjab had become a restless province during the Great War, and London, warned of terrorist ties to Germany and Russian revolutionaries, had imposed a crack-down.

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AZ Index

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

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Stories in Short’ (23 posts)
page 1
1 Much Ado About Nothing
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
Don Pedro’s brother John tries to ensure that the course of true love does not run smooth.
2 The Tempest
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
A duke with a passion for the art of enchantment is stranded by his enemies on a deserted island.
3 Persian Treasures
By Edith Nesbit
(1858-1924)
‘Be careful what you wish for’, they say, and there could be no more endearing example.
4 King Solomon’s Mines
Based on the novel by Sir Henry Rider Haggard
(1865-1936)
Allan Quartermain goes in search of a lost tourist and a legendary hoard of diamonds.
5 The Knight’s Tale
Based on the story by Geoffrey Chaucer
(?1343-1400)
Two noble youths of ancient Thebes fall for the same princess.
6 The Peasant, the Penny and Marko the Rich
Marko adopts drastic measures to get out of repaying the loan of a penny.
page 2
7 No Thoroughfare
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
and Wilkie Collins
(1824-1889)
At twenty-five and owner of his own business, Walter Wilding thought his world was secure, but it was about to be rocked to its foundations.
8 A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
Hermia and her lover Lysander elope from Athens, only to become tangled with squabbling fairies in the woods.
9 Two Gentlemen of Verona
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
Parted from his beloved Julia, Proteus follows his friend Valentine to Milan, where he meets the bewitching Silvia.
10 The Cat Who Walks by Himself
Based on a short story by Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
Part One. The sly cat hatches a plan to get all the benefits of domestic life without any of the responsibilities.
11 Jane Eyre
Her enemies made Jane stronger, but her lover struck a blow from which she might never recover.
12 The Tragedy of Macbeth
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
Macbeth becomes wound in spells, and finds that one murder leads to another.
page 3
13 The Tragedy of Hamlet
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
The Prince of Denmark is bound to avenge his father’s murder.
14 The Hound of the Baskervilles
Based on the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
(1859-1930)
Is an old family legend being used as a cover for a very modern murder?
15 The Selfish Giant
Based on the short story by
Oscar Wilde
A giant gets angry when he finds children playing in his garden.
16 Treasure Island
Based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson
(1850-1894)
An excited English gentleman hires a ship for a treasure-hunt, but doesn’t check his crew’s credentials.
17 The Hobbit
Based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
(1892-1973)
Tolkien’s tale of dragons, magic rings and enchanted gold is one of the masterpieces of English literature.
18 The Story of ‘Oliver Twist’
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
Fate and a vicious professional thief named Fagin conspire to trap orphan Oliver Twist into a life of crime.
page 4
19 The Birds
Based on the play by Aristophanes
(c. 445-386 BC)
Two men fed up with Athenian politics decide to build a city in the sky.
20 Too Clever By Half
Based on a short story by Edith Nesbit
(1858-1924)
Mrs Tabby White thought she’d try some of the clever things her humans did.
21 The Kitchen Cat
Based on a short story by Amy Walton
(1845-1925)
Part One. Ruth Lorimer’s strangely comfortless life changes when she finds a scruffy little cat on the stairs, but not everyone is pleased.
22 The Selfish Cat
Based on a story by Edith Nesbit
(1858-1924)
A tortoiseshell laments his hard life among heartless humans.
23 The Man Who Would Be King
Based on the short story by Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
Two rascally former British soldiers in India set off to become kings of Kafiristan.

Word Play: Confusables

Compose your own sentences to show the difference between these words:

Who. Which. That.

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 ‘Dew’
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 ‘conclusive evidence’ (5 letters), and ‘perceptive realisation’ (6 letters)?
Do you know ‘a brilliant solo passage in a concerto’ (7 letters), and ‘e.g. lion, tiger’ (3,3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FOAL and finish with MARE.
Decide whether a word is a verb or a noun (or both), and compose example sentences.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FALL and finish with RISE.
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?

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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.

More like this: Maths Steps Mental arithmetic