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All Posts (664)
Nos 491 to 500
John Field
Lives of the Saints
The Martyrdom of St Stephen
Stephen was the first person to lose his life because he was a follower of Jesus Christ.

GAMALIEL, one of the most respected teachers in Jerusalem, was a moderate. But his pupil Saul became a firebrand, dedicated to purifying Judaism of Greco-Roman culture and especially of the Christians, who had already seduced a Greek-culture Jew named Stephen.

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No. 491
Muzio Clementi
Greek and Roman Myths
Heracles and the Hydra
The Greek hero thinks he has paid off more of his debt to the gods, but an unpleasant surprise awaits him.

THE second Labour appointed for Heracles seemed as hopeless as the first.

The Hydra, a serpent with nine heads, was causing havoc among the farms neighbouring the marsh of Lerna, and Heracles was to kill it.

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No. 492
John Field
Discovery and Invention
King George III (1760-1820) to Queen Victoria (1837-1901)
Sir Humphry Davy
A Cornish professor of chemistry with a poetic turn who helped make science a popular fashion.

AS a boy in Penzance, Humphry Davy delighted in legends and poetry, but he also had a knack for machinery, and spent hours in his grandfather’s dispensary fiddling about with chemicals.

“This boy” the surgeon said good-humoredly, “will blow us all into the air”.

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No. 493
Muzio Clementi
Discovery and Invention
The Geordie Lamp
The engineer put his own life on the line for the safety of his fellow-workers in the coal industry.
Based on an account by Samuel Smiles
(1812-1904)

ONE day in 1814, panic-stricken pitmen burst into George Stephenson’s cottage yards from Killingworth colliery. The pit was on fire!

Stephenson led them to the pit-head, descended the shaft and, with every man looking at him expectantly, called for volunteers.

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No. 494
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. 495
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. 496
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. 497
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. 498
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. 499
2 two-part story
William Corbett and William Williams
Discovery and Invention
King Charles I (1625-1649) to King Charles II (1649-1685)
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. 500
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
An improbable chain of coincidences led to one of the great medical revolutions just when it was most needed.
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
(1564-1616)
The Prince of Denmark is bound to avenge his father’s murder.
By Alfred, Lord Tennyson
(1809-1892)
The legendary British warrior makes ready for his final journey, leaving Sir Bedivere with one last duty to perform.
In encouraging women into music, Alice Mary Smith thought promises of ‘greatness’ counterproductive.
By Anonymous (Irish Monk)
(9th century)
A 9th century Irish monk scribbled some verses about a beloved cat into his copy book.

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History (406)
Polywords (183)
Georgian Era (111)
Fiction (84)
Quickwords (46)
Doublets (34)
Railways (23)
Triplets (23)
Stuart Era (17)
Tudor Era (11)
Adam Smith (10)
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 ‘plaything’ (3 letters), and ‘a river in South Wales’ (3 letters)?
Changing one letter at a time, see if you can start with GOAT and finish with HERD.
Find the magic letter that can change three words into three different ones.