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.

Viola Draws a Blank
Music: Sir Arthur Sullivan
Viola tries to tell Orsino, Duke of Illyria, that his beloved Olivia is not the only woman deserving of his attention.
By William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)

“MY father had a daughter lov’d a man,
As it might be perhaps, were I a woman,
I should your lordship.”

“And what’s her history?”

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Six Posts
‘Not one more!’
Music: Muzio Clementi; Sir Hubert Parry
The prospect of facing daunting odds made his cousin quail, but Henry acted like a true King.
By William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)

O DO not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart.

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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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The Tragedy of Macbeth
two-part story
Music: Sir Arthur Sullivan; Richard Strauss
Macbeth becomes wound in spells, and finds that one murder leads to another.
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)

JUST before Edward the Confessor came to the English throne, two Scottish generals, Macbeth and Banquo, saved the throne of their king Duncan by repulsing a Danish invasion.

On their way home, three witches accosted them. They told Macbeth that he would one day be a king, and Banquo that he would be a father of kings.

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream
two-part story
Music: Felix Mendelssohn
Hermia and her lover Lysander elope from Athens, only to become tangled with squabbling fairies in the woods.
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)

WHEN Hermia’s father declared her life forfeit unless she married Demetrius, she fled Athens with her lover Lysander. But her friend Helena betrayed them, hoping in the frantic pursuit through the woods beyond the city to win Demetrius’s trust, and eventually his love.

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‘This England’
Music: Edward Elgar
John of Gaunt watches in despair as his country is milked for its wealth and shared out among the king’s favourites.
By William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)

THIS throne of kings, this sceptr’d isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war.

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The Tragedy of Hamlet
two-part story
Music: William Byrd; John Dowland
The Prince of Denmark is bound to avenge his father’s murder.
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)

HAMLET, heir to the throne of Denmark, was away from court when he heard his father had died, apparently of a snake-bite.

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All Posts
Tagged William Shakespeare (10 posts)
page 1
1 Viola Draws a Blank
By William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
Viola tries to tell Orsino, Duke of Illyria, that his beloved Olivia is not the only woman deserving of his attention.
2 Much Ado About Nothing
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.
3 The Tempest
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
A duke with a passion for the art of enchantment is stranded by his enemies on a deserted island.
4 A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
Hermia and her lover Lysander elope from Athens, only to become tangled with squabbling fairies in the woods.
5 Two Gentlemen of Verona
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
Parted from his beloved Julia, Proteus follows his friend Valentine to Milan, where he meets the bewitching Silvia.
6 ‘This England’
By William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
John of Gaunt watches in despair as his country is milked for its wealth and shared out among the king’s favourites.
page 2
7 ‘Not one more!’
By William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
The prospect of facing daunting odds made his cousin quail, but Henry acted like a true King.
8 The Tragedy of Macbeth
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
Macbeth becomes wound in spells, and finds that one murder leads to another.
9 The Tragedy of Hamlet
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
The Prince of Denmark is bound to avenge his father’s murder.
10 ‘There is a Tide in the Affairs of Men’
By William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
Brutus tells Cassius to act while everything is going his way, or be left with nothing but regrets.

Word Play: Active or Passive?

Use each of the verbs below in either the active or the passive form. Can you use both forms?

Tell. Like. Think.

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 ‘Trail’
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 ‘warm covering’ (7 letters), and ‘2,240 lb’ (3 letters)?
Change ROCK into SALT, one letter at a time.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FOAL and finish with MARE.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with SWORD and finish with PEACE.
Practise doing sums using multiples of 25, 50 and 75.
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