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.

A to Z Index

The Outbreak of the Second World War
two-part story
Music: Richard Addinsell; Sir William Walton
The only truly global conflict in history began when German troops crossed into Poland in September 1939.

ON September 3rd, 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany, two days after Berlin had defied an ultimatum and sent troops into Poland. The Soviet Union, in accord with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, quietly supported Germany.

Continue reading ›
Six Posts
Alan Blumlein
two-part story
Music: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Railway enthusiast, music lover, and the man who gave us stereo sound.

IN 1935 Alan Blumlein, an avid railway enthusiast, made a five-minute film of trains running through Hayes in Middlesex.

There was a serious purpose to Blumlein’s subject. A maddening feature of early talkies was that as actors moved around the screen, the sound of their voices and movements appeared rooted to one spot.

Continue reading ›
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.

Continue reading ›
Wilfrid Israel
Music: Gustav Holst; Ralph Vaughan Williams
Wilfrid Israel used his Berlin department store as cover for smuggling thousands of Jewish children to safety in Britain.

EVEN before the Nazis came to power in 1933, Wilfrid Israel was helping Jews escape to Britain, America and the British Mandate for Palestine.

As manager of a flagship Berlin department store, Wilfrid had a peculiar kind of influence.

Continue reading ›
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.

Continue reading ›
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’.

Continue reading ›
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.

Continue reading ›
All Posts
Tagged The Second World War (10 posts)
page 1
1 The Outbreak of the Second World War
The only truly global conflict in history began when German troops crossed into Poland in September 1939.
2 Alan Blumlein
Railway enthusiast, music lover, and the man who gave us stereo sound.
3 Benno Moiseiwitsch
One of the twentieth century’s greatest pianists, who put himself and his art at the service of his adopted country.
4 The Battle of Britain
Britain’s desperate defence against a much larger, better-prepared military machine was a costly victory.
5 Wilfrid Israel
Wilfrid Israel used his Berlin department store as cover for smuggling thousands of Jewish children to safety in Britain.
6 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.
page 2
7 Leslie Howard
Howard gave his life to saving the ‘great gifts and strange inconsistencies’ of Britain’s unique democracy.
8 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.
9 The Bishop’s Gambit
The mayor and bishop of Zakynthos went to extraordinary lengths to protect the most vulnerable people of their island.
10 Penicillin
An improbable chain of coincidences led to one of the great medical revolutions just when it was most needed.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Adjectives

By Ethel Smyth
(1858-1944)
Composer Ethel Smyth buys a new-fangled ladies’ bicycle, and scandalises the neighbours.
By Lewis Carroll
(1832-1898)
Alice meets Humpty Dumpty, and it turns out that she has been using words wrong all her life.
The unsung surveyor from Cheshire, who built railways and made friends across the world.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)
William Gladstone warns voters not to leave foreign policy in the hands of interventionist politicians.
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 ‘Wintry Showers’
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 ‘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.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
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 (81)

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

Work across from the number on the left, applying each arithmetical operation to the previous answer. What’s the final total?

Tip: Click any of the four inner squares to check your running total.

More like this: Maths Steps Mental arithmetic