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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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Latest
The Hobbit
two-part story
Music: Sir William Sterndale Bennett; York Bowen
Tolkien’s tale of dragons, magic rings and enchanted gold is one of the masterpieces of English literature.
Based on the novel by J.R.R. Tolkien
(1892-1973)

THORIN, a proud king among dwarves, was heir to a kingdom deep beneath the Lonely Mountain, and to the vast treasure within. However, the dragon Smaug was now lying on that treasure, and as warriors were rare, Thorin was looking for a burglar to help him steal it.

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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’ (23 posts)
page 1
1 Eddi’s Service
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
Rudyard Kipling’s poem about St Wilfrid’s chaplain and an unusual Christmas congregation.
2 ‘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.
3 ‘Recessional’
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
A heartfelt plea for humility at the height of Britain’s Empire.
4 ‘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.
5 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.
6 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.
page 2
7 Six Honest Serving-Men
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
A professional journalist and author recognises that he has met his match
8 ‘Sussex’
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
A meditation on our instinctive love for the place in which we live.
9 Northumberland
By Wilfrid Wilson Gibson
(1878-1962)
A poem of nostalgia for the sea breezes and yellow gorse of Northumberland.
10 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.
11 The Pitman Poet
Joseph Skipsey taught himself to read and write by candlelight, hundreds of feet below ground in a Northumberland pit.
12 ‘My Shadow’
By Robert Louis Stevenson
(1850-1894)
An enduringly popular, bitter-sweet poem by the author of ‘Treasure Island’.
page 3
13 The Rainbow
By William Wordsworth
(1770-1850)
God’s covenant of love is a fresh joy every time it appears.
14 A Farewell
By Charles Kingsley
(1819-75)
A last goodbye breathes promise of a merry meeting.
15 ‘Hail, Liberty!’
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
Kipling borrowed from the Greek Independence movement to give thanks for the end of the Great War.
16 ‘If...’
By Rudyard Kipling
(1865-1936)
A reflection on what builds real character
17 Daffodils
By William Wordsworth
(1770-1850)
A poem about the blessing of fond memories.
18 Love’s Last Knot
By Richard Crashaw
(1613-1649)
Richard Crashaw offers the hope of eternity for wedded love.
page 4
19 Ozymandias
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)
The glory of political power soon passes away.
20 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.
21 November
By Thomas Hood
(1799-1845)
Humorist Thomas Hood obviously didn’t like to see the nights drawing in
22 ‘I Remember’
By Thomas Hood
(1799-1845)
A poem of nostalgia tinged with regret.
23 Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard (extract)
By Thomas Gray
(1716-1771)
The poet reflects on the obscure lives that most of us lead.
which is ‘English Style’ ?

Word Play: Active or Passive?

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

Trade. Wish. Progress.

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 ‘Deer’
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
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with LONG and finish with JUMP.
Do you know ‘complaint’ (4 letters), and ‘be the right size and shape for a space’ (3 letters)?
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
Do you know ‘a republic in the Pyrenees’ (7 letters), and ‘shallow in sentiment’ (5 letters)?
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.
top topics
History (375)
Fiction (81)

letters game

What is the longest word you can make using these letters?

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