Two-minute tales from history, myth and fiction, accompanied by word games, grammar games and writing practice, all based on traditional school textbooks.

A to Z Index

Viola Draws a Blank
Music: Sir Arthur Sullivan
Viola tries to tell Orsino, Duke of Illyria, that his beloved Olivia is not the only woman deserving of his attention.
By William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)

“MY father had a daughter lov’d a man,
As it might be perhaps, were I a woman,
I should your lordship.”

“And what’s her history?”

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Diplomatic Immunity
two-part story
Music: William Byrd
Sir James Melville eavesdrops on Queen Elizabeth I’s music practice, and incurs Her Majesty’s displeasure.
By Sir James Melville
(1535–1617)

THE same day after dinner, my Lord of Hunsden drew me up to a quiet gallery that I might hear some music (but he said he durst not avow it), where I might hear the Queen play upon the virginals.

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‘This England’
Music: Edward Elgar
John of Gaunt watches in despair as his country is milked for its wealth and shared out among the king’s favourites.
By William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)

THIS throne of kings, this sceptr’d isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war.

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‘Not one more!’
Music: Muzio Clementi; Sir Hubert Parry
The prospect of facing daunting odds made his cousin quail, but Henry acted like a true King.
By William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)

O DO not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart.

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‘There is a Tide in the Affairs of Men’
Brutus urges Cassius to act while everything is going his way, or be left with nothing but regrets.
By William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)

THERE is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows, and in miseries.

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AZ Index

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

Featured Topic
page 1
1 The Legend of Pollard’s Lands
An enterprising knight rids the Bishop of Durham of a troublesome boar, but the price comes as a shock to his lordship.
2 The Legend of King Leir
An early British king discovers what he is really worth to his daughters.
3 King Arthur’s Last Request
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)
The legendary British warrior makes ready for his final journey, leaving Sir Bedivere with one last duty to perform.
4 Cap o’ Rushes
A girl’s choice of words sees her turned out of hearth and home.
5 Robin Hood and the Debt of Honour
The outlaw showed that strange as it may be, he did have a code of honour.
6 The Knight, the Lady, and the Forest of Sorrow
Based on a fable by Jerome K. Jerome
(1859-1927)
A little fable of encouragement for all the suffering.
page 2
7 The Legend of Beowulf
The oldest surviving heroic legend in English begins with a wild creature of the fens that hunts men for prey.
8 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
A knight issues a bizarre challenge to King Arthur and his court.
9 How Brutus of Troy Became Britain’s First King
An early mediaeval myth linking British civilization to the Fall of Troy.
10 The Lambton Worm
Part One. John Lambton goes fishing on a Sunday, and lets loose all kinds of trouble.
11 William of Cloudsley
William is Cumbria’s very own blend of Robin Hood and William Tell - with a happy ending, too.
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?

Come. Fly. Sort.

JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley says that the pinnacle of political achievement is the government not of others, but of ourselves.
By John Keats
(1795-1821)
Poet John Keats speaks of the beauties of Autumn, her colours, her sounds and her rich harvest.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
Poet Percy Shelley calls on November’s sister months to watch by the graveside of the dead Year.
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 ‘Vine’
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 SHEEP and finish with FLOCK.
Do you know ‘popular Asian chilled fruit drink’ (7 letters), and ‘bear witness’ (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)?
Do you know ‘ocean’ (7), and ‘a famously incorruptible Roman senator’ (4)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
A word-making and word-searching game with a dash of strategy to it.
top topics
History (379)
Fiction (82)

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: Longest Word (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: Target Number (Mental Arithmetic Game) Mental Arithmetic