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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.

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The Night-time Disciple
Nicodemus did not allow intellectual doubts to get in the way of what he knew in his heart.

NICODEMUS was a Pharisee, and also a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of the Temple in Jerusalem. Having heard wonderful stories, he was sure Jesus was sent by God and came looking for him – at night, since controversy was already swirling.

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AZ Index

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

Featured Topic
Tagged ‘Stories in Short’ (23 posts)
page 1
1 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.
2 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.
3 Persian Treasures
By Edith Nesbit
(1858-1924)
‘Be careful what you wish for’, they say, and there could be no more endearing example.
4 King Solomon’s Mines
Based on the novel by Sir Henry Rider Haggard
(1865-1936)
Allan Quartermain goes in search of a lost tourist and a legendary hoard of diamonds.
5 The Knight’s Tale
Based on the story by Geoffrey Chaucer
(?1343-1400)
Two noble youths of ancient Thebes fall for the same princess.
6 The Peasant, the Penny and Marko the Rich
Marko adopts drastic measures to get out of repaying the loan of a penny.
page 2
7 No Thoroughfare
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
and Wilkie Collins
(1824-1889)
At twenty-five and owner of his own business, Walter Wilding thought his world was secure, but it was about to be rocked to its foundations.
8 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.
9 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.
10 The Cat Who Walks by Himself
Based on a short story by Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
Part One. The sly cat hatches a plan to get all the benefits of domestic life without any of the responsibilities.
11 Jane Eyre
Her enemies made Jane stronger, but her lover struck a blow from which she might never recover.
12 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.
page 3
13 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.
14 The Hound of the Baskervilles
Based on the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
(1859-1930)
Is an old family legend being used as a cover for a very modern murder?
15 The Selfish Giant
Based on the short story by
Oscar Wilde
A giant gets angry when he finds children playing in his garden.
16 Treasure Island
Based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson
(1850-1894)
An excited English gentleman hires a ship for a treasure-hunt, but doesn’t check his crew’s credentials.
17 The Hobbit
Based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
(1892-1973)
Tolkien’s tale of dragons, magic rings and enchanted gold is one of the masterpieces of English literature.
18 The Story of ‘Oliver Twist’
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
Fate and a vicious professional thief named Fagin conspire to trap orphan Oliver Twist into a life of crime.
page 4
19 The Birds
Based on the play by Aristophanes
(c. 445-386 BC)
Two men fed up with Athenian politics decide to build a city in the sky.
20 Too Clever By Half
Based on a short story by Edith Nesbit
(1858-1924)
Mrs Tabby White thought she’d try some of the clever things her humans did.
21 The Kitchen Cat
Based on a short story by Amy Walton
(1845-1925)
Part One. Ruth Lorimer’s strangely comfortless life changes when she finds a scruffy little cat on the stairs, but not everyone is pleased.
22 The Selfish Cat
Based on a story by Edith Nesbit
(1858-1924)
A tortoiseshell laments his hard life among heartless humans.
23 The Man Who Would Be King
Based on the short story by Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
Two rascally former British soldiers in India set off to become kings of Kafiristan.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Verb or Noun?

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

Approach. Fall. Concern.

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 ‘Garden’
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
Try writing complete sentences using these nouns as either the subject or the object of a verb.
Change HIDE into AWAY, one letter at a time.
Do you know ‘brainy fellow’ (7 letters), and ‘drink’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with MILE and finish with POST.
Multiply two numbers together. See how quickly you can solve the sums.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
top topics
History (375)
Fiction (81)

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.

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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