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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.

Fashionable Freedom
Music: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
Josiah Wedgwood’s promotional gift made Abolitionism fashionable.
By Thomas Clarkson
(1760-1846)

NOR was the philanthropy of the late Mr. Wedgwood less instrumental in turning the popular feeling in our favour. He took the seal of the committee for his model, and produced a beautiful cameo.

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The Tea-Cup Revolutionary
Music: John Field
Josiah Wedgwood brought about a quiet revolution in English society.

A NASTY bout of smallpox when he was eleven left Josiah Wedgwood so lame that he could not work the pedal of a potter’s wheel.

But pottery was all he knew, so in 1759 he turned from manufacture to innovation, employing others for design and production, and burying himself in the chemistry of his trade.

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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.

Word Play: Adjectives

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 ‘Barn’
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 ‘snare’ (6 letters), and ‘better’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with NAIL and finish with SHOE.
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FALL and finish with RISE.
For each of these things, select the most apposite word of praise.
Change SNOW into DROP, one letter at a time.
See if you can guess these words letter-by-letter.
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History (359)
Fiction (77)

letters game

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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.

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