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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.

Latest
Xerxes Scourges the Hellespont
Music: Frank Bridge
The Persian King felt that a lord of his majesty should not have to take any nonsense from an overgrown river.
By Herodotus
(?484-?425 BC)

MEANWHILE, his men were bridging the Hellespont from Asia to Europe. But no sooner had the strait been bridged than a great storm swept down, breaking and scattering everything.

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AZ Index

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

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Character and Conduct’ (25 posts)
page 1
1 A World of Differences
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)
Emma tries to reconcile her father to the unaccountable tastes of his nearest and dearest.
2 Wild Goose Chase
By Sir Walter Scott
(1771-1832)
Sir Walter Scott warned that schoolchildren must not expect to be entertained all the time.
3 A Very Special Correspondent
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Pauline de Meulan’s magazine Publiciste was close to going out of business when an anonymous contributor stepped in.
4 Dr Johnson and the Critic’s Ambush
By James Boswell
(1740-1795)
A literary man tries to trick Samuel Johnson into an honest opinion, which was neither necessary nor very rewarding.
5 Education of the Heart
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)
For Jane Austen, the best education a father can give to his child is to befriend her.
6 The Blessing of Disguise
By Sir Walter Scott
(1771-1832)
A mysterious knight and an equally mysterious outlaw agree to preserve one another’s incognito.
page 2
7 Perilous Waters
King Saul’s jealousies drove those who loved him away, but David was a very different kind of leader.
8 The Price of Treachery
Based on an account by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
A Danish soldier in the seventeenth century imposes the severest sentence he can think of.
9 Sweet and Sour
By
Samuel Johnson
The great Dr Johnson argues that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
10 A Little Common Sense
By William Pitt the Elder
(1708-1778)
William Pitt the Elder doubts the wisdom of letting experts run the country.
11 A True Gentleman of Verona
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
A young man from the Italian city on the Adige River demonstrates that class has nothing to do with wealth.
12 Triumph in Adversity
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Two famous figures, one from the sciences and one from the arts, who turned suffering to advantage.
page 3
13 Bear and Forbear
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
A sympathetic understanding of the trials of other people is essential for getting along.
14 Music at Midnight
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
To do one’s duty is to peep into the mystery of life, and taste reward from another world.
15 A Proper Education
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)
Harriet Smith’s school gave her a grounding in good sense that even Emma Woodhouse could not quite overthrow.
16 The Bully and the Brakesman
A young George Stephenson takes responsibility for the team spirit at Black Callerton mine.
17 A Tempting Offer
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)
True moral integrity comes from within.
18 Practice Makes Perfect
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)
Making friends is, like playing music, not just a matter of natural talent.
page 4
19 In Good Company
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)
Anne Elliot resents being expected to court the society of anyone simply because of social status.
20 With the Compliments of Mr Collins
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)
There is an art to making one’s compliments seem artless.
21 Character and Learning
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Intellectual learning is to be respected, but it should never be confused with good character.
22 The Love of the Lindseys
Based on an account by Charlotte Yonge
(1823-1901)
Young Montague Bertie, Lord Willougby, tended his dying father behind enemy lines.
23 The Character of Horatio Lord Nelson
By The Revd Alexander Scott
(1768-1840)
High praise from someone who knew him better than most.
24 ‘Better Habits, Not Greater Rights’
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
The extraordinary productivity and social mobility of the Victorian era is to the credit not of the governing class, but of the working man.
page 5
25 The Character of George Stephenson
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
A self-made man who never forgot his humble beginnings.

Word Play: Verb or Noun?

Use each of the words below once as a noun and once as a verb:

Stand. Keep. Kiss.

New Stories
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.
By Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
Charles Dickens sketches for us the shyly ingratiating youth who gets himself in a tangle in the presence of Beauty.
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.
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 ‘Time’
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 FREE and finish with KICK.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with ASH and finish with OAK.
Do you know ‘withdraw’ (7 letters), and ‘domesticated’ (4 letters)?
Do you know ‘a temperature scale’ (6 letters), and ‘a bit of useful advice’ (3 letters)?
Practise your twelve times table against the clock.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
History (360)
Fiction (78)

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