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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.

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Pirates at Penzance
Music: Jean-Baptiste Lully
The people of Penzance in Cornwall did not think an Algerian corsair much better than a French warship.

IN the small hours of 30th September, 1760, Penzance was woken by the firing of guns, and news spread that a large and unusual ship had run aground near Newlyn. A crowd gathered in the grey dawn, fearing to see a French fleet massing in the Channel.

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The Bombardment of Algiers
Music: Ignaz Moscheles
For two centuries, human traffickers had stolen English men, women and children for the slave-markets of the Arab world.

WITHIN fifty years of victory over the Spanish Armada in 1588, England’s navy was so neglected that Arab pirates from the Barbary coast were raiding Cornish villages and commandeering fishing-boats with impunity, abducting hundreds of men, women and children for slave-labour in docks and on farms, down mines and in homes across the Ottoman Empire.

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

Featured Topic
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.
New Stories
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.
To the poor of England, the Worcestershire man gave affordable pots and pans, and to all the world he gave the industrial revolution.
After Louis XIV’s grandson Philip inherited the throne of Spain, the ‘Sun King’ began to entertain dreams of Europe-wide dominion.
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 ‘Mouse’
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 London (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.

More Puzzles
Practise doing sums using multiples of 25, 50 and 75.
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 FELL and finish with PONY.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
Do you know ‘well-worn route or habit’ (3 letters), and ‘naval officer’ (7 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
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History (359)
Fiction (77)

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