All Posts (649)
Nos 31 to 40
1 2 3 4 5 6 65
Sir Arthur Sullivan
Anglo-Saxon History
The Bishop and the Chatterbox
One week into a Lenten retreat with the Bishop of Hexham, a boy’s miserable life is turned right around.
Based on an account by Saint Bede of Jarrow
(672-735)

DURING the Lenten fast, Bishop John and a few monks used to retire to a cottage in woodland across the Tyne, beside a graveyard dedicated to St Michael the Archangel. One year, John persuaded a young lad to stay with them whose head was all scabs and scales and sorry wisps of hair, and who had never been able to speak a word.

Continue reading
No. 31
2 two-part story
George Frideric Handel
Christian Customs
Michaelmas
A celebration of St Michael, captain of heaven’s angel host, courteous warrior, and healer.

“THE Michaelmas daisies,” says the old rhyme, “among dead weeds, Bloom for St Michael's valorous deeds.”

Michael’s valorous deeds are described in the Bible. St John tells us that there was war in heaven, and Michael and his angels fought against the devil and his angels, and cast them down.

Continue reading
No. 32
2 two-part story
Piotr Ilich Tchaikovsky
Stories in Short
The Wolf, the Bear and Cat Ivanovitch
A faithful but unprepossessing pet is turned out of hearth and home.

ONCE upon a time, a peasant decided that his ginger cat, a battle-scarred mouser with one ear, was not the sort of pet to be seen with. So he popped old Tom in a sack, and dumped him in the forest.

Tom clawed his way out of his sack, and set off to explore his new world.

Continue reading
No. 33
2 two-part story
Gustav Holst
Discovery and Invention
Japan’s First Railway
As Japan’s ruling shoguns resist the tide of progress, a Nagasaki-based Scottish entrepreneur steps in.

FOR over two centuries, Japan isolated herself from the rest of the world, a policy vigorously pursued by the Tokugawa shogunate that had sidelined the Emperors. But from 1853, zealous American, Russian and British merchants and their modern wares were grudgingly admitted into selected Japanese ports.

Continue reading
No. 34
Ethel Smyth
Music and Musicians
The Free-Wheeler
Composer Ethel Smyth buys a new-fangled ladies’ bicycle, and scandalises the neighbours.
By Ethel Smyth
(1858-1944)

IN the Illustrated London News were to be seen pictures of wild women of the usual unprepossessing pioneer type riding about Epping Forest, and I at once decided to buy a bicycle.

Aunts, cousins, and friends were horrified ... never has the word indelicate been bandied about with more righteous conviction. But my mother said this was perfect nonsense.

Continue reading
No. 35
2 two-part story
Sir Arthur Sullivan
Extracts from Literature
Alice gets an English Lesson
Alice meets Humpty Dumpty, and it turns out that she has been using words wrong all her life.
By Lewis Carroll
(1832-1898)
Continue reading
No. 36
2 two-part story
Cipriani Potter
Discovery and Invention
Thomas Brassey
The unsung surveyor from Cheshire, who built railways and made friends across the world.

THOMAS Brassey, son of a prosperous Cheshire farmer, began his career in road-building as an apprentice to surveyor William Lawton, on Thomas Telford’s Shrewsbury to Holyhead road. Brassey rose from apprentice to partner, and Lawton and Brassey relocated to Birkenhead to make road-building materials.

Continue reading
No. 37
Ethel Smyth
International Relations
The Din of Diplomacy
William Gladstone warns voters not to leave foreign policy in the hands of interventionist politicians.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)

THERE was a saying of an ancient Greek orator, who, unfortunately, very much undervalued what we generally call the better portion of the community — namely, women; he made a very disrespectful observation, which I am going to quote, not for the purpose of concurring with it, but for the purpose of an illustration. Pericles, the great Athenian statesman, said with regard to women, Their greatest merit was to be never heard of.

Continue reading
No. 38
Piotr Ilich Tchaikovsky
International Relations
An Exceptional Nation
William Gladstone explains that a truly ‘exceptional nation’ respects the equality and rights of all nations.
By William Ewart Gladstone
(1808-1898)

YOU may sympathize with one nation more than another. You sympathize most with those nations, as a rule, with which you have the closest connection in language, in blood, and in religion, or whose circumstances at the time seem to give the strongest claim to sympathy. But in point of right all are equal.

Continue reading
No. 39
Louise Farrenc
Discovery and Invention
A Leader by Example
George Stephenson won the admiration of French navvies by showing them how a Geordie works a shovel.
By Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

WHEN examining the works of the Orleans and Tours Railway, Mr Stephenson, seeing a large number of excavators filling and wheeling sand in a cutting, at a great waste of time and labour, went up to the men and said he would show them how to fill their barrows in half the time.

Continue reading
No. 40
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
Joseph’s brothers decide they have had enough of their rival in their father’s affections.
The legend of how Rome was settled gave rise to the March festival of Roman motherhood.
By Edmund Burke MP
(1729-1797)
Edmund Burke pleaded with Parliament to emerge from behind closed doors and reconnect with the British public.
Baird’s inventions didn’t always work as well as his televisions.
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)
True moral integrity comes from within.

A to Z Index

Top Topics
History (394)
Polywords (182)
Georgian Era (107)
Fiction (84)
Quickwords (46)
Doublets (34)
Triplets (23)
Railways (23)
Stuart Era (16)
Adam Smith (10)
Polyword ‘Prince’
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 ‘warm covering’ (7 letters), and ‘2,240 lb’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with FOAL and finish with MARE.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.