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

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The Living Past
Music: Sir William Sterndale Bennett
High above the roof of the Amazonian rainforest, Professor Challenger sees something that eerily reminds him of home.
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
(1859-1930)

“BY George, this must be the trail of the father of all birds!”

If it were indeed a bird — and what animal could leave such a mark? — its foot was so much larger than an ostrich’s that its height upon the same scale must be enormous. Lord John looked eagerly round him and slipped two cartridges into his elephant-gun.

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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’ (28 posts)
page 1
1 ‘Thy Necessity is Yet Greater than Mine’
By Fulke Greville, Baron Brooke
(1554-1628)
Elizabethan courtier and soldier Sir Philip Sidney shows that a nobleman can also be a gentleman.
2 Thomas Brassey
The unsung surveyor from Cheshire, who built railways and made friends across the world.
3 A Leader by Example
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
George Stephenson won the admiration of French navvies by showing them how a Geordie works a shovel.
4 A World of Differences
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)
Emma tries to reconcile her father to the unaccountable tastes of his nearest and dearest.
5 Wild Goose Chase
By Sir Walter Scott
(1771-1832)
Sir Walter Scott warned that schoolchildren must not expect to be entertained all the time.
6 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.
page 2
7 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.
8 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.
9 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.
10 Perilous Waters
King Saul’s jealousies drove those who loved him away, but David was a very different kind of leader.
11 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.
12 Sweet and Sour
By Samuel Johnson
(1709-1784)
The great Dr Johnson argues that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
page 3
13 A Little Common Sense
By William Pitt the Elder
(1708-1778)
William Pitt the Elder doubts the wisdom of letting experts run the country.
14 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.
15 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.
16 Bear and Forbear
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
A sympathetic understanding of the trials of other people is essential for getting along.
17 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.
18 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.
page 4
19 The Bully and the Brakesman
A young George Stephenson takes responsibility for the team spirit at Black Callerton mine.
20 A Tempting Offer
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)
True moral integrity comes from within.
21 Practice Makes Perfect
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)
Making friends is, like playing music, not just a matter of natural talent.
22 In Good Company
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)
Anne Elliot resents being expected to court the society of anyone simply because of social status.
23 With the Compliments of Mr Collins
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)
There is an art to making one’s compliments seem artless.
24 Character and Learning
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
Intellectual learning is to be respected, but it should never be confused with good character.
page 5
25 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.
26 The Character of Horatio Lord Nelson
By The Revd Alexander Scott
(1768-1840)
High praise from someone who knew him better than most.
27 The Character of George Stephenson
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)
A self-made man who never forgot his humble beginnings.
28 ‘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.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Verb or Noun?

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

Form. Chain. Father.

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 ‘Hare’
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
Do you know ‘satisfied’ (7 letters), and ‘warm and cosy’ (4 letters)?
Make opposites from these words using prefixes, like lucky → unlucky.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FELL and finish with PONY.
Find prepositions to follow each of these words.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
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