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.

Six Featured Posts
Benno Moiseiwitsch
Music: Johannes Brahms
One of the twentieth century’s greatest pianists, who put himself and his art at the service of his adopted country.

AT fifteen, budding pianist Benno Moiseiwitsch inquired at the Royal Academy of Music in London about continuing studies that had begun in his hometown, Odessa, and had brought him the Anton Rubinstein Prize when he was nine. His prospective tutors told him frankly that they did not know what they could teach him.

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The Evacuation of Dunkirk
Music: Frank Bridge
The fate of the British army hung by a thread in May 1940, but ships large and small, military and civilian, came to the rescue.

AFTER Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, the British Expeditionary Force, a thorn in the German side during the Great War, was again deployed to France.

This time, however, the speed of the enemy’s advance through Holland and Belgium, bursting into France by the Ardennes, caught everyone by surprise.

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The Bishop’s Gambit
Music: Nikolai Medtner
The mayor and bishop of Zakynthos went to extraordinary lengths to protect the most vulnerable people of their island.

IT was in December 1943 that the anxious mayor of Zakynthos, Lukas Karrer, came to ask Bishop Chrysostom’s advice.

The Nazi commandant had given him seventy-two hours to compile a list of all the Jews of the island, a distasteful task as Karrer guessed that they would go to the Polish concentration camps.

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Leslie Howard
Music: Sir William Walton
Howard gave his life to saving the ‘great gifts and strange inconsistencies’ of Britain’s unique democracy.

AFTER leaving his cavalry regiment in 1916 suffering from shell-shock, Leslie Howard turned to acting, starring as Percy Blakeney in ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ in 1934, and most famously as Ashley Wilkes in ‘Gone With The Wind’.

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Penicillin
Music: Percy Grainger
An improbable chain of coincidences led to one of the great medical revolutions just when it was most needed.

EARLY on Friday, September 28, 1928, Alexander Fleming walked into his laboratory in St Mary’s Hospital, London, and noticed an open Petri dish with a culture of staphylococcus lying in it.

A nearby open window had let mould spores blow into the lab, and where these had settled in the dish the bacterial culture would not grow.

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The Battle of Britain
Music: Ron Goodwin
Britain’s desperate defence against a much larger, better-prepared military machine was a costly victory.

BY the summer of 1940, Nazi Germany had acquired control over most of Western Europe and Scandinavia, and Adolf Hitler confidently attacked RAF bases in southern England in August that year.

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All Posts
Tagged The Second World War (9 posts)
page 1
1 Alan Blumlein
Railway enthusiast, music lover, and the man who gave us stereo sound.
2 Benno Moiseiwitsch
One of the twentieth century’s greatest pianists, who put himself and his art at the service of his adopted country.
3 The Battle of Britain
Britain’s desperate defence against a much larger, better-prepared military machine was a costly victory.
4 Wilfrid Israel
Wilfrid Israel used his Berlin department store as cover for smuggling thousands of Jewish children to safety in Britain.
5 The Evacuation of Dunkirk
The fate of the British army hung by a thread in May 1940, but ships large and small, military and civilian, came to the rescue.
6 Britain’s Destiny
By Leslie Howard
(1893-1943)
In a Christmas broadcast in 1940, actor Leslie Howard explained why British sovereignty was worth fighting for.
page 2
7 Leslie Howard
Howard gave his life to saving the ‘great gifts and strange inconsistencies’ of Britain’s unique democracy.
8 The Bishop’s Gambit
The mayor and bishop of Zakynthos went to extraordinary lengths to protect the most vulnerable people of their island.
9 Penicillin
An improbable chain of coincidences led to one of the great medical revolutions just when it was most needed.

Word Play: Confusables

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

Learn. Teach.

What’s New
By Cynewulf
(8th century)
Northumbrian poet Cynewulf paints a word-picture of heaven and the seraph-band that swoops and soars before the throne.
By Sir Winston S. Churchill
(1874-1965)
As a last, desperate throw of the dice in the Great War, the Germans detonated an unusual kind of weapon in St Petersburg.
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.
By Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)
St Bede says that Christ’s Transfiguration should remind us that we live in two worlds at the same time.
Try writing complete sentences using these verbs in either the active or the passive voice.
Decide whether a word is a verb or a noun (or both), and compose example sentences.
Polyword ‘Iced’
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.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Do you know ‘part of a fish’ (3 letters), and ‘heart of the matter’ (3 letters)?
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Do you know ‘glittering crown’ (6 letters), and ‘dark and gloomy’ (5 letters)?
Do you know ‘plaything’ (3 letters), and ‘a river in South Wales’ (3 letters)?
top topics
History (351)
Fiction (73)

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: ‘Countdown’ 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