All Posts (649)
Nos 481 to 490
Sir William Sterndale Bennett
Hans Christian Andersen
The Ugly Duckling
It’s not where you came from that matters, it’s where you belong.
Based on a fable by Hans Christian Andersen
(1805-1875)

A MOTHER duck hatched a fine family of ducklings. Except for one. He was late in coming, and uncommonly large. He swam beautifully, but - such an ugly duckling! Even his quack sounded strange.

All the ducks in the yard pecked him and shunned him. ‘How ugly he is!’ some cried. ‘Like a turkey!’, sniffed others.

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No. 481
2 two-part story
Jean-Baptiste Krumpholz
Miscellaneous Myths
Cinderella
A prince falls for a dazzling dance-partner who teasingly vanishes at midnight.

ONCE upon a time, a widowed nobleman remarried so that his only daughter might have a mother and the company of sisters. But they sent her away to sweep out the ash from the fireplaces, and dubbed her ‘Cinderella’, maid-of-ashes.

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No. 482
Charles Avison
Music and Musicians
Charles Avison
The most important English-born composer of Handel’s day, known for his tuneful music and very busy diary.
Music by Charles Avison
(1709-1770)

WHILE in the employment of Ralph Jenison, MP for Northumberland, Charles Avison found time to develop an interest in music, encouraged at home by his father Richard; and on March 20, 1734, he was rewarded with a concert in Hickford’s Room, London, and time to study in the capital with Francesco Geminiani.

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No. 483
English Folksong
Hans Christian Andersen
The Princess on the Pea
A fastidious prince felt he deserved a girl of royal refinement, and he certainly found one.
Based on a fable by Hans Christian Andersen
(1805-1875)

ONCE upon a time, a prince decided to find himself a princess, or rather (as he told himself) a real princess.

For the princesses of the neighbouring kingdoms were not at all what he imagined a princess should be, and soon he was quite discouraged.

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No. 484
Elias Parish Alvars
Music and Musicians
Elias Parish Alvars
Eli Parish of Teignmouth in Devon became one of Europe’s most celebrated virtuosos.
Music by Elias Parish Alvars
(1808-1849)

THE year 1818 was a momentous one for the ten-year-old Eli Parish.

That was the year he gave his first harp concert, in his hometown of Teignmouth, Devon; and it was also the year that his father was declared bankrupt.

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No. 485
2 two-part story
William Corbett and William Williams
Discovery and Invention
Dud Dudley: Iron Man
The 17th-century entrepreneur developed a way of smelting iron with coke rather than charcoal, but the Civil War frustrated his plans.

AS the 16th century opened, monks in England’s monasteries were developing industrial techniques for smelting iron with charcoal.

But the Dissolution of the Monasteries brought an abrupt end to that; and then fears for England’s vanishing forests led the government to favour foreign imports.

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No. 486
Lives of the Saints
St Nicholas and the Golden Dowry
Nicholas used his inheritance to help three vulnerable girls escape a life of exploitation.

IN Nicholas’s hometown of Patara there lived a man who had once been very wealthy, but had now fallen into desperate poverty.

He had three daughters, but they had already had to move away to find work, and as they were all remarkably beautiful he was increasingly anxious that a brothel was their most likely fate.

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No. 487
Extracts from Literature
Are Women more faithful than Men?
A touchy subject, especially when your lover is listening in.
By Jane Austen
(1775-1817)

“Oh!” cried Anne eagerly, “I hope I do justice to all that is felt by you, and by those who resemble you. God forbid that I should undervalue the warm and faithful feelings of any of my fellow-creatures! I should deserve utter contempt if I dared to suppose that true attachment and constancy were known only by woman.

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No. 488
Richard Jones
Lives of the Saints
The Law of the Innocents
St Adamnán worked tirelessly to secure protection, rights and dignity for the women of Ireland.

IN 7th century Ireland, the lot of women was unenviable. Serving women were a form of coinage: fines were calculated in cumals, or maidservants, each equivalent to three milk-cows.

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No. 489
Muzio Clementi
Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson
The Character of Horatio Lord Nelson
High praise from someone who knew him better than most.
By The Revd Alexander Scott
(1768-1840)

LET the country mourn their hero; I grieve for the loss of the most fascinating companion I ever conversed with — the greatest and most simple of men — one of the nicest and most innocent — interesting beyond all, on shore, in public and even in private life.

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No. 490
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
God’s love proved to be bigger and stronger than all man’s wickedness.
By Sir Ranjitsinhji Vibhaji of Nawanagar
(1872-1933)
Stylish batting in cricket is about variety, invention and frankly anything that works, and we have Dr W.G. Grace to thank for it.
Conspiracies and dynastic expectations swirled around James I’s daughter from the age of nine.
Germany felt she had a right to an empire like Britain’s, and she was willing to get it at the expense of her neighbours.
A young Jewish woman in ancient Babylon falls victim to a heartless conspiracy.

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Polyword ‘Field’
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 ‘a river, part of the Bristol-London waterway’ (6 letters), and ‘e.g. D minor’ (3 letters)?
Change SNOW into DROP, one letter at a time.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.