For learning. For inspiration. Or just for fun.
And a good south wind sprung up behind;
The Albatross did follow,
And every day, for food or play,
Came to the mariner's hollo!
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’
A Southern Royal Albatross (Diomedea epomophora) in Tasmania.
1 / 62
Welcome
to English Language and History .com
Stories
Two-minute tales and grammar games
Puzzles
Games with words and numbers
Gustav Holst
Lives of the Saints
For Theophany
Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh
Abbot Elfric unpacks the meaning of the gifts of the Three Wise Men.
By Elfric of Eynsham
(955-1010)

THESE three astrologers came and offered him symbolic gifts. Gold symbolised that he is true King; frankincense that he is true God; and myrrh that, though he now lives immortal evermore, he was mortal then.

Some heretics believed he was God, but not that he reigned anywhere: they offered frankincense to Christ spiritually, but would not offer gold.

Continue reading
No. 1
Sir Arthur Sullivan
Extracts from Literature
Viola Draws a Blank
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?”

Continue reading
No. 2
2 two-part story
Thomas Arne
Music and Musicians
King George I (1714-1727) to King George II (1727-1760)
Caught in the Act
Young Thomas Arne goes to extreme lengths to conceal his musical talent from his family.
By Charles Burney
(1726-1814)

HIS love for Music operated upon him too powerfully, even while he was at Eton, for his own peace or that of his companions; for with a miserable cracked common-flute, he used to torment them night and day. When he left Eton he used to avail himself of the privilege of a servant, by borrowing a livery and going into the upper gallery of the opera, which was then appropriated to domestics.

Continue reading
No. 3
Charles Avison
Discovery and Invention
King George III (1760-1820)
Spinning Jenny
James Hargreaves’s historic invention was not without its critics when it first appeared.

IN the 1760s, John Kay’s new ‘flying shuttle’ looms allowed Colchester’s weavers to double their output. More cloth at lower prices promised full order-books and new jobs across the textile industry, but spinning was still a laborious handicraft, and could not supply enough yarn. The looms fell silent, and unemployed weavers smashed them, sending Kay in fear to Paris.

Continue reading
No. 4
Thomas Morley
Tudor Era
Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603)
Asylum Christi
Samuel Smiles explains how Tudor England was transformed from sleepy backwater to hive of industry.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

THE religious persecutions of Philip II of Spain and of Charles IX of France shortly supplied England with the population of which she stood in need — active, industrious, intelligent artisans. Philip set up the Inquisition in Flanders, and the Duchess of Parma, writing to Philip II in 1567, informed him that in a few days above 100,000 men had already left the country with their money and goods, and that more were following every day.

Continue reading
No. 5
2 two-part story
Anonymous and John Dowland
Tudor Era
Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603)
The Ridolfi Plot
The Pope and the King of Spain decide that the time has come to rid England of her troublesome Queen, Elizabeth I.

IN 1568, King Philip II of Spain borrowed £400,000 from Genoa to fund his government of the Spanish Netherlands, and help the Governor, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba, to reinvigorate the Inquisition there.

But as Philip’s ships entered the Channel, French Huguenots came to the aid of their Dutch neighbours and drove the ships to port in England. Elizabeth impounded Philip’s gold for her Treasury, the latest in a series of provocations by the English Queen.

Continue reading
No. 6
Muzio Clementi
Discovery and Invention
King George III (1760-1820)
Not for Sale
Sir Humphry Davy pleads with Britain’s scientists not to be bought by Napoleon’s gold.
By Sir Humphry Davy
(1778-1829)

SCIENCE for its progression requires patronage, - but it must be a patronage bestowed, a patronage received, with dignity. It must be preserved independent. It can bear no fetters, not even fetters of gold, and least of all those fetters in which ignorance or selfishness may attempt to shackle it.

Continue reading
No. 7
2 two-part story
George Frideric Handel
The Second World War
King George VI (1936-1952)
‘Please Respect our Traditions’
Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens took his wartime protest straight to the top.

DIMITRIS Papandreou was elected Archbishop Damaskinos of Athens in 1938. At that time, Greece was under a state of emergency declared by Prime Minister Ioannis Metaxas, whose Fascist sympathies Damaskinos emphatically did not share. The appointment was blocked, and Damaskinos was kept under house arrest in Salamina until the Germans came in 1941.

Continue reading
No. 8
John Foulds
Character and Conduct
Queen Victoria (1837-1901)
The Absent Minded Conquerors
Sir John Seeley urged us to cherish our close ties to India and other nations beyond Europe.
By Sir John Seeley
(1834-1895)

WE seem to have conquered and peopled half the world in a fit of absence of mind. While we were doing it, we did not allow it to affect our imaginations or in any degree to change our ways of thinking; nor have we even now ceased to think of ourselves as simply a race inhabiting an island off the northern coast of the Continent of Europe.

Continue reading
No. 9
2 two-part story
Ernest Walker
Modern History
King Edward VII (1901-1910) to King George V (1910-1936)
Srinivasa Ramanujan
A maths prodigy from Madras became so wrapped up in his sums that he forgot to pass his examinations.

SUCH was Srinivasa Ramanujan’s passion for numbers that at eleven, two college maths students who lodged with his family in Kumbakonam, near Madras, could no longer satisfy his burning curiosity. At sixteen, he borrowed a book with thousands of problems in Algebra, Trigonometry, Geometry and Calculus, and worked out solutions for them all.

Continue reading
No. 10
Polywords (183)
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Latest: Weir
Added on Sunday January 14th, 2018
Doublets (34)
Turn one word into another, changing just one letter each time.
Latest: Stardust
Quickwords (46)
A mini-crossword of everyday vocabulary and general knowledge.
Triplets (23)
Find one common letter that will turn three words into three new ones.
Latest: Triplet No. 23
Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
See how ingenious you can be in combining three randomly chosen words in one sentence.
Compose sentences showing the difference in meaning, grammar or usage between these words.
Practise your basic arithmetic, from multiplation tables to percentages.
Latest: Target Number
Take command of English grammar and composition with these traditional exercises.
Latest: Letters Game
A word search game with a dash of strategy.
From our Archive
The wandering King was alive after all - unknown to his “widow’s” suitors.
‘Goodwill’ was on everyone’s lips, but the Roman Emperor and the God of Israel had very different ideas about it.
Based on an article by Charles Dickens
(1812-1870)
The closure of slave plantations following the Abolition of Slavery Act in 1833 had a curious side-effect.
Socrates was placed on death row while Athens celebrated a religious festival.
Mild-mannered Grace Darling persuaded her father to let her help him rescue the survivors of a shipwreck.

A to Z Index

Top Topics
History (407)
Polywords (183)
Georgian Era (112)
Fiction (84)
Quickwords (46)
Doublets (34)
Triplets (23)
Railways (23)
Stuart Era (17)
Tudor Era (11)
Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Catch of the Day’
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.

More Word Games
A word search game with a dash of strategy.
Guess these words letter by letter – before the cats are gone!
Do you know ‘pull along behind one’ (3 letters), and ‘self-evident or accepted proposition’ (5 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with WIND and finish with CASH.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.