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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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Much Ado About Nothing
two-part story
Music: William Byrd; John Dowland
Don Pedro’s brother John tries to ensure that the course of true love does not run smooth.
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)

FLUSHED with success in battle, Don Pedro, Prince of Aragon, repaired to Messina in Sicily for a well-earned rest in the house of the Governor, Leonato. With him went two Italian lords, Claudio and Benedick, and his stepbrother, Don John.

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AZ Index

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

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Poets and Poetry’ (22 posts)
page 1
1 ‘The Overland Mail’
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
A tribute to the postal workers of British India, and to the kind of empire they helped to build.
2 ‘The Nightingale and the Glow Worm’
By William Cowper
(1731-1800)
A kind of Aesop’s Fable in verse, about mutual respect among those with different talents.
3 ‘Recessional’
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
A heartfelt plea for humility at the height of Britain’s Empire.
4 Ring out the Old, Ring in the New
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)
For Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Christmas was a time to let the dead past bury its dead.
5 Christmas Bells
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)
The sounds of an English country Christmas helped Tennyson in his deep mourning for an old friend.
6 Six Honest Serving-Men
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
A professional journalist and author recognises that he has met his match
page 2
7 ‘Sussex’
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
A meditation on our instinctive love for the place in which we live.
8 Northumberland
By Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
(1878-1962)
A poem of nostalgia for the sea breezes and yellow gorse of Northumberland.
9 King Arthur’s Last Request
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)
The legendary British warrior makes ready for his final journey, leaving Sir Bedivere with one last duty to perform.
10 The Pitman Poet
Joseph Skipsey taught himself to read and write by candlelight, hundreds of feet below ground in a Northumberland pit.
11 ‘My Shadow’
By Robert Louis Stevenson
(1850-1894)
An enduringly popular, bitter-sweet poem by the author of ‘Treasure Island’.
12 The Rainbow
By William Wordsworth
(1770-1850)
God’s covenant of love is a fresh joy every time it appears.
page 3
13 A Farewell
By Charles Kingsley
(1819-75)
A last goodbye breathes promise of a merry meeting.
14 ‘Hail, Liberty!’
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
Kipling borrowed from the Greek Independence movement to give thanks for the end of the Great War.
15 ‘If...’
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
A reflection on what builds real character
16 Daffodils
By William Wordsworth
(1770-1850)
A poem about the blessing of fond memories.
17 Love’s Last Knot
By Richard Crashaw
(1613-1649)
Richard Crashaw offers the hope of eternity for wedded love.
18 Ozymandias
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
The glory of political power soon passes away.
page 4
19 The Music of Silence
By Samuel Taylor Coleridge
(1772-1834)
In Coleridge’s epic poem, the Ancient Mariner, amid the horrors of a ship of dead men, sees a sight both beautiful and surreal.
20 November
By Thomas Hood
(1799-1845)
Humorist Thomas Hood obviously didn’t like to see the nights drawing in
21 ‘I Remember’
By Thomas Hood
(1799-1845)
A poem of nostalgia tinged with regret.
22 Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (extract)
By Thomas Gray
(1716-1771)
The poet reflects on the obscure lives that most of us lead.

Word Play: Subject and Object

Use each of the words below as either the subject or the object of a verb.

Cow. Daughter. Pension.

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 ‘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.
Make words like ‘give in’ and ‘switch off’, and then find other words to express their meaning.
Do you know ‘additional’ (5), and ‘reject contemptuously’ (5)?
For each of these things, select the most apposite word of praise.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with MILE and finish with POST.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
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