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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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Huskisson’s Legacy
Music: Sir William Sterndale Bennett
Charles Dickens explains how cutting tax and regulation on Britain’s global trade made everyone better off.
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

AUSTRALIA was the great woollen revolutionist. German superseded Spanish wool, and Australian has superseded German to a great extent. The fine wool of Spain often cost ten shillings a-pound; we now obtain an enormous supply of fine wool at from one shilling and sixpence to two shillings per pound.

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One Post
How Liberating the Slaves also Clothed the Poor
Music: Sir George Macfarren
The closure of slave plantations following the Abolition of Slavery Act in 1833 had a curious side-effect.
Based on an article by Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)

THE African slaves in the West Indies were usually dressed in a shirt and trousers of striped mattress sacking. As soon as they were emancipated, they wished to dress like their late masters, and Jewish entrepreneurs in London heard of it from their colleagues in the Caribbean. So they hastily washed, mended and exported second-hand clothes to the States, allowing ex-slaves to rival their former owner’s wardrobe for an eighth of the price.

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AZ Index

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

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Classical History’ (25 posts)
page 1
1 Judicial Iniquity
By John Stuart Mill
(1806-1873)
John Stuart Mill reminds us that governments and the courts must never be allowed to criminalise matters of belief or opinion.
2 The Golden Age of Carausius
A Roman commander facing court martial took refuge in politics, and for ten years London was an imperial capital.
3 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.
4 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.
5 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.
6 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.
page 2
7 Boudica
British sympathy for Roman imperial progress evaporated when officials began asset-stripping the country.
8 St George the Triumphant Martyr
One of the Emperor Galerius’s most trusted generals openly defied him.
9 ‘Stand out of my Sunshine!’
By Plutarch
(AD 45-120)
Alexander the Great dropped a hint to his sycophantic entourage.
10 Alcibiades
In the populist democracy of 5th-century BC Athens, heroes fell as quickly as they rose.
11 Pericles and the Fickle Public of Athens
The leader of 5th-century BC Athens lavished public money on the city and its adoring citizens.
12 The Battle of Marathon
Remembered as the inspiration of the famous Olympic road race, but much more important than that.
page 3
13 The Last Days of Socrates
Socrates was placed on death row while Athens celebrated a religious festival.
14 First Contact
Julius Caesar came over from France expecting to silence the noisy neighbours, but things did not go according to plan.
15 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.
16 A Man called ‘Beta’
For a perennial ‘runner-up’, Eratosthenes had a peculiar knack of being first.
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 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.
page 4
19 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.
20 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.
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 The Battle of Salamis
Defeat for the Greeks would have changed the course of Western civilization.
23 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.
24 The Last Gladiator
The people of Rome suddenly turned their back on centuries of ‘sport’ - all because of one harmless old man.
page 5
25 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.
which is ‘English Style’ ?
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 ‘Rail’
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
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Do you know ‘a town like Bath’ (3 letters), and ‘deteriorate’ (6 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FAST and finish with SLOW.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with CHIP and finish with PUTT.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with ASH and finish with OAK.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
History (375)
Fiction (80)

letters game

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

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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.

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