All Posts (649)
Nos 21 to 30
1 2 3 4 5 65
2 two-part story
Edward Elgar
Greek and Roman Myths
Heracles and the Garden of the Hesperides
Two of Heracles’s labours are declared void, so to make up the number he is sent to find the Garden of the Hesperides.

WITH the cattle of Geryon, Heracles thought he had completed the ten labours appointed by the oracle. But Eurystheus judged that Heracles had had help with the Hydra and the Augean stables, and they did not count.

Instead, Heracles was commissioned to bring home three apples from a sacred tree growing the Garden of the Hesperides, daughters of the Night.

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No. 21
2 two-part story
George Frideric Handel
Lives of the Saints
The Emperor and the Nun
The young Roman Emperor Theophilus backed away from marriage to the formidable Cassiani, but he could not forget her.

WHEN sixteen-year-old Theophilus succeeded his father Michael II as Roman Emperor in 829, the boy’s stepmother Euphrosyne organised a ‘bride show’: Theophilus must choose a wife from among the Empire’s most eligible young ladies, by handing a golden apple to one lucky winner.

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No. 22
2 two-part story
Johann Baptist Cramer and Francesco Geminiani
Mediaeval History
Edward the Exile
Two young English princes were banished to the court of Yaroslav the Wise, and one returned to claim the crown.

IN 1016, the Danish King Cnut the Great took the English crown from Edmund Ironside, son of Ethelred the Unready, at the Battle of Assandun. Edmund’s two infant sons, Edmund and Edward, were banished to Sweden; Cnut’s plan was to have them assassinated, but the boys were smuggled to safety at the court of Stephen I of Hungary.

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No. 23
2 two-part story
Modest Mussorgsky
Mediaeval History
The Conversion of Vladimir the Great
A succession of religious leaders came to Kiev, hoping to win the wild barbarian Prince to their cause.

PRINCE Vladimir of Kiev was a superb general, but not without his faults. He was given to drink, kept several wives and hundreds of sex slaves, and encouraged the people to sacrifice their sons and daughters to his idol gods. And all this despite having a Christian grandmother, Olga.

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No. 24
Johann Christian Bach
Mediaeval History
The Matildas of England
For a hundred years after William the Conqueror came to England, four strong women named Matilda shaped the nation’s history.

AFTER King Harold was killed at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the victor William, Duke of Normandy, claimed the English crown. But Harold’s council of noblemen, the Witenagemot, refused to recognise William. Instead, they turned to Edgar, a grandson of Edmund Ironside.

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No. 25
Johann Baptist Cramer
Music and Musicians
Glorious John
JB Cramer was one of the finest pianists of his day, though his reverence for Mozart made his own music more popular in the drawing room than the concert hall.

BY 1784, thirteen-year-old Johann Baptist Cramer was such a naturally gifted pianist that Muzio Clementi, his distinguished teacher, performed a duet with him in public. Four years later, Johann toured Europe, and again in 1799, attracting the notice of both Haydn and Beethoven, who declared him the finest pianist of the day.

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No. 26
Muzio Clementi
Poets and Poetry
To Autumn
Poet John Keats speaks of the beauties of Autumn, her colours, her sounds and her rich harvest.
By John Keats
(1795-1821)

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel.

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No. 27
Muzio Clementi
Poets and Poetry
Autumn: A Dirge
Poet Percy Shelley calls on November’s sister months to watch by the graveside of the dead Year.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)

THE warm sun is failing, the bleak wind is wailing,
The bare boughs are sighing, the pale flowers are dying,
And the Year
On the earth her death-bed, in a shroud of leaves dead,
Is lying.
Come, Months, come away,
From November to May,
In your saddest array;
Follow the bier
Of the dead cold Year,
And like dim shadows watch by her sepulchre.

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No. 28
Johann Baptist Cramer
Poets and Poetry
The Empire Within
Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley says that the pinnacle of political achievement is the government not of others, but of ourselves.
By Percy Bysshe Shelley
(1792-1822)

NOR happiness, nor majesty, nor fame,
Nor peace, nor strength, nor skill in arms or arts,
Shepherd those herds whom tyranny makes tame;
Verse echoes not one beating of their hearts,
History is but the shadow of their shame,
Art veils her glass, or from the pageant starts
As to oblivion their blind millions fleet,
Staining that Heaven with obscene imagery
Of their own likeness.

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No. 29
William Byrd
Character and Conduct
‘Thy Necessity is Yet Greater than Mine’
Elizabethan courtier and soldier Sir Philip Sidney shows that a nobleman can also be a gentleman.
By Fulke Greville, Baron Brooke
(1554-1628)

THE weather being misty, their troops fell fatally within shot of their [the Spanish Army’s] muskets, which were laid in ambush within their own trenches. An unfortunate hand out of those trenches brake the bone of Sir Philip’s thigh with a musket-shot. The horse he rode upon, was rather furiously choleric, than bravely proud, and so forced him to forsake the field.

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No. 30
Polywords (182)
Make as many words as you can from the letters of a nine-letter word.
Latest: Path
Added on Monday December 11th, 2017
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.
Today in History
1878 The death of Alfred Bird, Birmingham pharmacist and confectioner
From our Archive
The story of the once magnificent Temple in Jerusalem, the city God chose for Israel’s capital.
Music by John Playford
(1623-1686)
In England’s brief but dismal experiment as a Republic, Playford saved traditional English dance music from destruction.
England’s rulers from the only one named ‘the Great’, to the king who lost his crown to the Danes.
Wilfrid Israel used his Berlin department store as cover for smuggling thousands of Jewish children to safety in Britain.
By Thomas Clarkson
(1760-1846)
Josiah Wedgwood’s promotional gift made Abolitionism fashionable.

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Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Act’
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 ‘well-worn route or habit’ (3 letters), and ‘naval officer’ (7 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FELL and finish with PONY.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.