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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.

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Latest
No Thoroughfare
two-part story
Music: Sir William Sterndale Bennett
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.
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
and Wilkie Collins
(1824-1889)

WHEN a tearful mother left her baby son at London’s Foundling Hospital, she went away knowing only that they had named him ‘Walter Wilding’. He was eleven when she returned and claimed him by that name, lavishing a mother’s love on him until she died thirteen years later.

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AZ Index

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

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Science and Scientists’ (18 posts)
page 1
1 Paxton’s Palace
Sir Joseph Paxton not only designed the venue for the Great Exhibition of 1851, he embodied the festival’s most cherished principles.
2 Mary Anning
A twelve-year-old girl from Lyme Regis made a historic discovery while selling seashells to tourists.
3 The Ladies’ Diary
A long-lived annual of riddles, rhymes and really hard maths aimed specifically at Georgian Britain’s hidden public of clever women.
4 John Dalton
At fifteen John Dalton was a village schoolmaster in Kendal; at forty he had published the first scientific theory of atoms.
5 Alan Blumlein
Railway enthusiast, music lover, and the man who gave us stereo sound.
6 Dr Wollaston
William Hyde Wollaston discovered new elements and helped Faraday to greatness, all from the top of a tea-tray.
page 2
7 Mr Faraday
Faraday’s work on electromagnetism made him an architect of modern living, and one of Albert Einstein’s three most revered physicists.
8 The Lessons of Nature
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Samuel Smiles shows us two great achievements inspired by two tiny creatures.
9 Observation
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Great inventions come from those who notice what they see.
10 The Music of the Spheres
Sir William Herschel not only discovered Uranus and infrared radiation, but composed two dozen symphonies as well.
11 Penicillin
An improbable chain of coincidences led to one of the great medical revolutions just when it was most needed.
12 Sir Humphry Davy
A Cornish professor of chemistry with a poetic turn who helped make science a popular fashion.
page 3
13 The Fleming Valve
A Victorian children’s book inspired the birth of modern electronics.
14 The Ladder with Twenty-Four Rungs
The Duke of Argyll was pleasantly surprised to find one of his gardeners reading a learned book of mathematics - in Latin.
15 A Man called ‘Beta’
For a perennial ‘runner-up’, Eratosthenes had a peculiar knack of being first.
16 John Logie Baird
Baird’s inventions didn’t always work as well as his televisions.
17 Edmond Halley
Edmond Halley will forever be associated with the comet named after him, but his greatest achievement was getting Sir Isaac Newton to publish ‘Principia Mathematica’.
18 The Star that Winked
John Goodricke’s observations of Algol won him the Copley Medal while still in his teens, despite his disability.
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?

Sense. Concern. Question.

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 ‘Cut’
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 ‘situation of a golf ball’ (3 letters), and ‘the capital of the State of New York’ (6 letters)?
For each of these things, select the most apposite word of praise.
Do you know ‘rim’ (4 letters), and ‘the Roman name for Chester’ (4 letters)?
Do you know ‘a brilliant solo passage in a concerto’ (7 letters), and ‘e.g. lion, tiger’ (3,3 letters)?
Do you know ‘street lined with tall buildings or trees’ (6 letters), and ‘shed’ (3 letters)?
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

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