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.

Latest
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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Six Posts
Two Gentlemen of Verona
two-part story
Music: Charles Avison
Parted from his beloved Julia, Proteus follows his friend Valentine to Milan, where he meets the bewitching Silvia.
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)

ONE day, Valentine came to bid farewell to his fast friend Proteus. Proteus had fallen in love, and Valentine, weary of listening to Proteus’s raptures about his Julia, thought he might try his luck in Milan. Luck was unusually kind, bringing him Silvia, the pretty, teasing daughter of the Duke of Milan.

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The Kitchen Cat
two-part story
Part One. Ruth Lorimer’s strangely comfortless life changes when she finds a scruffy little cat on the stairs, but not everyone is pleased.
Based on a short story by Amy Walton
(1845-1925)

HIGH up in a rambling town house in Gower Street was a nursery, and for most of the day Ruth Lorimer played disconsolately in it.

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The Cat Who Walks by Himself
two-part story
Music: Johann Baptist Cramer
Part One. The sly cat hatches a plan to get all the benefits of domestic life without any of the responsibilities.
Based on a short story by Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)

AFTER he was tamed by Woman, Wild Man tamed Wild Cow and Wild Horse with food and shelter, but not Wild Cat. ‘I am the Cat who walks by himself’ he said haughtily, ‘and all places are alike to me’.

And Woman laughed, for though the wild woods were cold and wet, the Cat would not serve.

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The Peasant, the Penny and Marko the Rich
two-part story
Music: Nikolai Medtner
Marko adopts drastic measures to get out of repaying the loan of a penny.

ONCE upon a time, a peasant gave a penny to a beggar in the street. Marko the Rich decided he would do the same, but borrowed his penny from the peasant on the plea that he had no small change. ‘Come to my house tomorrow,’ he said, ‘and I will repay you’.

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No Thoroughfare
two-part story
Music: Sir William Sterndale Bennett
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.
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
and Wilkie Collins
(1824-1889)

WHEN a tearful mother left her baby son at London’s Foundling Hospital, she went away knowing only that they had named him ‘Walter Wilding’. He was eleven when she returned and claimed him by that name, lavishing a mother’s love on him until she died thirteen years later.

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Treasure Island
two-part story
Music: Sir Hubert Parry
An excited English gentleman hires a ship for a treasure-hunt, but doesn’t check his crew’s credentials.
Based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson
(1850-1894)

AFTER the landlord of the Admiral Benbow inn died, times were hard for his widow and his son Jim.

Otherwise, they would not have put up with their solitary resident, a rough, foul-mouthed seaman calling himself ‘Captain Billy Bones’.

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All Posts
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.

Word Play: Active or Passive?

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

Seem. Sail. Warn.

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 ‘Corfe’
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
Divide one number by another number. See how quickly you can solve the sums.
Add one number to another number. See how quickly you can solve the sums.
Try writing complete sentences using these adjectives in the attributive position.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with TALL and finish with SHIP.
An arithmetical puzzle combining addition, subtraction, division, multiplication and fractions.
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

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