Elementary level titles

The Lusitania
History - Elementary - Premium
The Lusitania was an American ship that the Germans sank in the First World War in 1915. Hundreds of passengers - many were women and children - died. Two years later, it was also the reason why the USA entered the First World War. Read about its story here (520 words).
In 1917, Russia was losing the war against Germany. The soldiers did not get any pay and their food was old and bad. The Russian Revolution was going to happen very soon. But in a northern sea near the Russian coast, the sailors decided they were not going to wait. Read their story (570 words).
John George Haigh - The Acid Bath Murderer
Crime - Elementary - Premium
Haigh did not kill people in acid baths. He put their dead bodies in them and they became soup. He killed for money but he did not think about the future. He did not think that other people were going to find out. He just killed and when people asked him questions, he killed them too. This is his story (810 words).
Francis Chichester
History - Elementary - Premium
The doctors told Francis Chichester that he had cancer and was going to die very soon. But Chichester decided to live his life very fast and very bravely. He got ready to sail around the world in a yacht. This is his unbelievable story (320 words).
The Bedouin
History - Elementary - Free
This is the story of the Bedouin of Arabia, people who moved from place to place in the desert. They lived in tents and looked after camels and goats. Their lives were hard and sometimes they died of hunger. Now, there are not very many left. This is the story of their lives and traditions (600 words).
The French Revolution
History - Elementary - Free
The French Revolution of 1789 changed the world. We all know the pictures of the guillotine, the machine that cut people’s heads off, but the Revolution also made Napoleon Bonaparte, the man who started a European war. It changed the way we think too – even today. This is the story of what happened in Paris in 1789 (400 words)
The Boston Strangler - One Man or Many?
Crime - Elementary - Free
In the early 1960s, in Boston, USA, in just a few weeks, a mad killer murdered six women, all over fifty-five years old, in their homes. People were afraid to go out. Nobody knew why someone wanted to kill old ladies. Then the killing stopped and life returned to normal. But, after only three months, it began again. This is the story of the Boston Strangler (560 words)
Ted Bundy - American Serial Killer
Crime - Elementary - Premium
Ted Bundy is one of the most hated murderers in American history. He killed young women for no reason. Although he had many chances to get away from the police, he did not run for safety. It was more important to him to kill. This is his terrible story (740 words).
Sultan Suleiman
History - Elementary - Free
Suleiman was the greatest Turkish sultan. He made the Turkish empire the largest in the world and all Europe worried that he was going to make Europe a Muslim continent. But Suleiman was also an artist and a man who never killed people just because they were of different religions. He changed Turkey by his laws, his art and the beautiful buildings he made (800 words).
The Massacre At Amritsar
History - Elementary - Premium
Britain ruled more of the world than any other country in history. It made Britain rich and strong. The best part of the Empire was India, a huge and wonderful country of mountains and deserts, different religions and old knowledge. But Britain kept India by force. Read the terrible story of Amritsar and the killing of women and children and understand the price India paid for the British Empire (430 words).
Johnannes Gutenberg changed the world. Before him, people copied books by hand. They wrote every word and started the page again if they made a mistake. Of course, books were very, very expensive and so nobody learnt to read. Gutenberg made a machine that made books cheap and easy to copy fast – very fast. This is his story (420 words)...
James Watt, Inventor of the Industrial Revolution
Science - Elementary - Premium
Britain in the early eighteenth century was a land of farms and fields but the Industrial Revolution changed the country for ever. James Watt, a Scottish inventor with only a little schooling, was the man that started it all. Read his story (620 words).
Emily Davison Died So Women Could Vote
History - Elementary - Free
One hundred years ago in Britain, women could not choose the government. They could not be politicians. Almost no woman had a job. This is the story of a brave woman who died because she wanted to give women chances in life. Read about Emily Davison (500 words).
Did A Dog Steal The World Cup?
Football - Elementary - Free
In 1966, the World Cup was in London but a few weeks before the matches started, someone stole the World Cup. Later, a dog called Pickles found it in a garden. He became famous. He got money, starred in a film and went to the party when England won the Cup. But did he also steal it? Read and find out more (410 words).
Diamonds Are Forever
Science - Elementary - Free
Everybody knows that diamonds are beautiful, romantic and expensive. But where do they come from? What is the biggest diamond in the world? What is the most expensive? And what are they made of? This story will tell you all you want to know (480 words).
The Dangerous Game Of Football
Football - Elementary - Free
Today, many people cannot enjoy football because of the dangerous fans that go to matches. They often don’t go to watch the match but to fight. But football has always been a dangerous game. It is not a new thing. Read about the history of football and the problems it has made (500 words).
Auschwitz - Nazi Death Camp
History - Elementary - Premium
We will never forget the name of Auschwitz, the camp where Hitler and his Nazi government killed hundreds of thousands of Jews and many other people in the Second World War. This is the terrible story of one of the worst moments in human history (1020 words).
Abraham Lincoln
History - Elementary - Free
Every schoolchild in America learns about Abraham Lincoln. He was the President that lived in a small wooden home when he was a young man, but spent his last day in the White House. He ended slavery and stopped the states in the South from leaving the USA. Read more about him in this short story about his life (650 words).
Gladiators
History - Elementary - Free
Everyone knows about Roman gladiators and their fights to the death in the arenas of the Empire. Many were slaves and fought because they were going to die if they didn’t learn to use weapons. But others chose to fight because they wanted to be famous and rich. This is their story (400 words)
When a War Stopped for a Football Match
Football - Elementary - Premium
It was Christmas 1914 and thousands of German, French and British soldiers were sitting in fields across Belgium. It was the first winter of the First World War and the men were unhappy. They wanted to be at home with their families. Suddenly, they stood up and started playing football and singing songs. The war stopped for a few days and, in some places, weeks because the men did not fight (410 words).
There are so many books about the First World War and the millions and millions of people who died between 1914 and 1918. But do you know how the war started? This short article tells you how it started. Read it and find out more (520 words).
The 47 Ronin
History - Elementary - Premium
The 47 ronin is one of the most famous stories from Japanese history. Their master killed himself because of a man who behaved very badly to him. The ronin decided to murder this man and planned their attack very carefully. After the man was dead, the ronin all killed themselves. Read their story (490 words).
The First Football Club Manager
Football - Elementary - Premium
Football is now big business but in the late nineteenth century, football clubs could not pay their players. Football was a game for gentlemen, people who liked sport as a hobby – not as a job. One man changed all that but he also went to prison because of it 660 words).
The Death of Jimmy Thorpe, Sunderland Goalkeeper
Football - Elementary - Premium
Nobody knows Jimmy Thorpe’s name today but he was a goalkeeper for Sunderland, a football club in the north of England in the 1930s. He died in his early twenties. He was just married and had a small child. Jimmy died because a striker from the other team kicked his head and body to get the ball out of his hands. Read his sad story (300 words).
Pol Pot - Cambodia's Brother Number One
History - Elementary - Premium
The twentieth century was a difficult time in South-east Asia. There was the Japanese war against China and many other countries; the Americans dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki; Vietnam had a terrible civil war; and there was the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. The leader of this political party killed millions of his own people in just three years. This is his story (740 words).
Nat Turner - Freedom Fighter or Terrorist?
History - Elementary - Free
Nat Turner lived long ago and was never famous in his lifetime. He was a slave in America. We know him today because, one day, he decided to kill the people who took away his freedom. In a few hours, he murdered many, many white men, women and children. He was the first slave to use violence to fight against his slavery in the USA. This is his story (400 words)

Pre-intermediate level titles

The Fly
Katherine Mansfield - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
Katherine Mansfield’s brother was killed in The First World War and, in this story, the writer shows the feelings of two fathers whose sons were also killed. She considers their different reactions and how they change as the years pass, and cleverly uses the struggles of an unlucky fly to make her ideas clearer to us (1,390 words).
The Signal
Vsevolod Garshin - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
In this tale of official unfairness, the Russian writer, Garshin, describes to us the terrible revenge that a railway employee takes when he is badly treated by a senior official (2,800 words)
The Story Teller
Saki - Pre-Intermediate - Free
Saki tells a very funny tale about a man on a train listening to the boring stories of an aunt as she tries to keep three small children interested and well-behaved. She does not succeed. The man takes her place and tells the little ones a story that makes their aunt very worried (1,760 words).
The Store Room
Saki - Pre-Intermediate - Free
Saki’s very funny short story is about a young boy who is so badly behaved that he cannot go out to the beach with his family but must stay at home with his boring aunt. In fact, the naughty boy never planned to go on the trip because he has something he very much wants to do at home. But to do this, he must play a game on his aunt (1,950 words).
Once There was a King
Rabindranath Tagore - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
The Nobel Prize winning author, Rabindranath Tagore, is famous all over the world for his novels, poems and songs, written in Bengali, but his shorter work is not so well-known. In this tale, Tagore tells us a story, just as a seven-year-old boy listens to his old grandmother telling it, about a princess who marries a child, looks after him and prepares him to be her husband and lover (1,800 words)
A Ramble in Aphasia
O. Henry - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
In this story, the great American writer, O. Henry, explains why a top lawyer leaves his job, wife and home after he suddenly loses his memory. Until he wakes up on a train with thousands of dollars in his pocket, he has been a normal man, living for his work. But, suddenly, all that changes (2,500 words).
Three Questions
Leo Tolstoy - Pre-Intermediate - Free
In this very short story, the great Russian novelist, Leo Tolstoy, gives his readers a simple truth. The story seems like a children’s tale as it includes a king and a wise old man, but it is suitable for all ages of reader (1,100 words)
The Bird
Leo Tolstoy - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
Tolstoy is world-famous as a novelist. In fact, his ‘War and Peace’ is one of the longest stories ever written. In just a few hundred words, however, you can read something by this great writer. It’s a sad story but one that we all know very well. We often have great plans but we usually get bored with them – sometimes with tragic results! (500 words)
When Father brought Home the Lamp
Juhani Aho - Pre-Intermediate - Free
Aho’s story is now a phrase in the Finnish language, meaning new things are not always better than old ones. A farmer in the cold countryside of Finland is the first to stop using wood to light his home when he buys a lamp. His wife, children and neighbours are all impressed, but the old man who cut the wood for light no longer sits with the family at night (2,700 words)
The Terrible Old Man
H.P. Lovecraft - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
H. P. Lovecraft is well-known for his horror stories although he was never successful while he was alive. In this very short story, he tells us about a strange old sea captain who lives alone and buys everything he needs with old gold coins. But when three thieves visit him one night, they get more than they expect (880 words).
Revenge
Guy de Maupassant - Pre-Intermediate - Free
Guy de Maupassant is France’s greatest writer of short stories and this is one of his most powerful. It is about an old woman whose son is killed and who promises him that she will get revenge. But how can she? She is old and cannot fight a young murderer. But then she has a terrible and very clever idea (1,200 words).
An Uncomfortable Bed
Guy de Maupassant - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
Maupassant did not often write funny stories. France’s greatest short story writer was more interested in love and tragedy than he was in comedy. But this is an exception. Read it and see what you think! (800 words)
A Piece of String
Guy de Maupassant - Pre-Intermediate - Free
Maupassant, the greatest of all French short story-tellers, here describes a simple habit that has terrible results. A well-known man in a small French town often walks around and sees if there’s anything on the ground he can use. He finds a piece of string, but quickly this small discovery changes his life for the worse (1,350 words).
The Disintegration Machine
Arthur Conan Doyle - Pre-Intermediate - Free
Arthur Conan Doyle is famous for his crime fiction, especially for his detective, Sherlock Holmes, but he also wrote science fiction and was well-known for his bad-tempered scientist, Professor Challenger. For readers who love Sherlock Holmes, here’s a story about his forgotten Challenger and how he saves the world! (2,750 words)
The Adventure of the Norwood Builder
Arthur Conan Doyle - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
Sherlock Holmes is asked to solve a mystery that saves a dead man’s reputation and shows that his son is innocent of the terrible murder of a drunken old sea captain. But what secret do the lives of a ruined banker and a retired sailor share? (4,500 words)
The Cat
Banjo Paterson - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
In this story, ‘Banjo’ Paterson describes one of the world’s favourite pets. He writes about the famous independence of the cat from the people he lives with and the difference in the animal asleep in front of our fire and in the garden at night (950 words).
The Merino Sheep
Banjo Paterson - Pre-Intermediate - Free
‘Banjo’ Paterson wrote many stories about animals and life in the wild in Australia, but there are not many which are as funny as this one about sheep. Here, he tells us why he hates sheep and he makes us laugh too (800 words).
About a Dog Fight
Banjo Paterson - Pre-Intermediate - Free
Dog fighting has been against the law for many, many years in most parts of the world. We prefer to keep our dogs with us by the fire or running in the park. Paterson’s story tells a very different tale though. He describes to us why it’s as natural for dogs to fight as it is for men to box (900 words).
The Lottery Ticket
Anton Chekhov - Pre-Intermediate - Free
Chekhov is the greatest teller of short stories in Russian, maybe world, literature. This one is about a happily married couple who have a lottery ticket and (only half-) imagine they have won a lot of money. But their dreams of a rosy future are not as sweet as we might expect (1,600 words)
The Boarded Window
Ambrose Bierce - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
In this exciting story, Ambrose Bierce tells us about the terrible secret that lies in an old man’s past. His wife has died and the man has given up hope. But death is not unusual in his community. So, why is this man’s story so different from others? (1,250 words)
The Story of an Hour
Kate Chopin - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
This very short story by the feminist American writer, Kate Chopin, tells us about a young, but sick, married woman, when she believes that her husband’s death in a train accident will allow her to live her own life (800 words)
Dracula's Guest
Bram Stoker - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
Everyone knows about Dracula and the undead. So, it may surprise you to learn that Bram Stoker, the writer who created Dracula, never became famous in his lifetime. It was only when films were made about the vampire that Dracula became well-known. This story is about a man who does not believe in the undead but learns better (2,570 words).
The Mini-Skirt
Fashion - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
People have argued about the mini skirt since the 1960s, when it first became popular. Some people believe it turns women into sex objects while others think it is attractive and comfortable. Read this very short article and decide what you think for yourself! (280 words)
The Planets
Science - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
This article tells you a lot about planets that you may not know. For example, it tells us about the difference between planets and stars and why the planets keep turning around the Sun. Maybe you are interested in astronomy and found out the answers to these questions years ago, but if you didn’t, now you have the chance! (850 words)
Telling the Time - A History of Calendars
Science - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
Did you know that only two hundred years ago, countries in Europe did not only have different times but different days too? When we travel from Britain to France, New York to California, Saudi Arabia to Dubai, we change the time on our watches. Two hundred years ago, people changed the day too. Time seems so easy, but, in fact, it has been – and still is – a huge problem. Read all about it here! (1,190 words)
Wigs
Fashion - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
It’s not just pop stars like Lady Gaga who wear wigs. Wigs have a long history. The Romans wore them. Three hundred years ago, men and especially women spent hours planning new styles. Their wigs were really heavy. They weighed kilos. And they cost a lot of money. Read here about the change in fashion through the ages!
The Washington Sniper
Crime - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
The Washington Sniper took his ex-girlfriend’s teenage son out one day in 2002 and started shooting strangers – people he had never seen before and did not know – from the back of his car. He did this because he was angry with his girlfriend and did the shootings in a way that could get her into trouble. He shot and killed seventeen people and injured ten more. Read about this strange crime and learn why he did it (960 words).
Pirates
Crime - Pre-Intermediate - Free
In this short article, you can read about modern day piracy in the sea around Somalia and learn about the pirates of hundreds, even thousands, of years ago. Julius Caesar was taken prisoner by pirates in Roman times and robbery at sea has continued till the present day. We still love to watch films about pirates which show us a romantic life of adventure but life was very different if you lived on those ships. Read more! (920 words)
The Myth of the American West
History - Pre-Intermediate - Free
We all watch cowboy films and like the brave, strong men who lived alone and only had a horse for a friend. We know they faced so many dangers and cared more about women and children than they cared about their own safety. We think that these were the first true Americans. The problem is that it was not true. Read this story about the discovery of the west and find out what really happened (1,000 words)
Rugby
Sport - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
This article tells the story of rugby, its fairly short history and the rules of the game. You will be surprised to learn how rugby started – it was almost an accident. You also probably don’t know that the game got its name from a famous and expensive school. But this article is not only about history: it also tells us how rugby is getting more popular (920 words)
Mars
Science - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
Although people 5,000 years ago could see Mars because it is near our planet, we still don’t know very much about it. The Babylonians (in modern Iraq thousands of years ago) thought it was coloured red and was angry. Because of this, they thought it was a male planet. The Romans called the god of war ‘Mars’. Modern scientists have tried to find life there but we don’t know if anything ever lived on it. Read about this interesting planet (1,200 words).
The Ku Klux Klan
History - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
The Ku Klux Klan started after the southern states of America lost the war against the North in 1865. They wanted black people to be slaves. They lost that fight, but they tried to keep their old way of life by stopping black people from voting. They raped the women, burnt their homes and killed many men. At one time, there were thousands of Ku Klux Klan but today that number is under 5,000. This is the story of the group (700 words).
Julius Caesar
History - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
Julius Caesar is one of the most famous generals in history. He made the Roman Empire much richer and bigger by attacking Gaul (now called France) and winning the war against it. He made Rome stronger because he included foreigners among its people. And he had Cleopatra, the last queen of Egypt, as his lover. But he was killed by his friends in Rome, not in a foreign war. This is his story (750 words).
Granada
Geography - Pre-Intermediate - Free
Granada is one of the most beautiful parts of Spain and many tourists visit it every year. It is in the mountains but it is only two hours’ drive from the sea. But Granada’s popularity comes from its rich history. This part of Spain has been home to Muslims and Christians for many centuries and we can see this in the wonderful buildings everywhere (600 words).
Phil Spector - the Show Business Murderer
Crime - Pre-Intermediate - Free
By the age of twenty, Phil Spector was one of the most famous and richest musicians in America. He produced records for some of the best pop groups of his time. But Spector’s childhood and his controlling personality made him a very dangerous man. And then he killed a girl… Read his story here! (1,170 words)
The History of Immunisation
Science - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
The biggest discovery in medicine of all time, the one that saved the most lives, was immunisation. The idea is simple: you put a very small amount of a disease into a body – but not enough to make the person sick. The body’s immune system makes antibodies to fight the disease. If the person catches the disease later, his body is ready and fights it so that he does not become ill and die. This is the story of the history of immunisation (800 words).
Zero
Science - Pre-Intermediate - Free
It is hard for us to imagine what life was like before we had the number zero. Numbers were very long and extremely difficult to multiply. Imagine this sum, for example: DCCCLXXVII x MMCCLXIX in Roman numbers. Imagine that you could not use 0 to write 1,000,001. But zero was also thought to be the work of the Devil, because it meant ‘nothing’ and it was impossible to show nothing. Read this fascinating story (1,100 words).
Geronimo
History - Pre-Intermediate - Free
Geronimo was an Apache fighter, one of the last American Indians to fight against the coming of Europeans to the United States. He lived to be an old man, forbidden to travel and a prisoner on a small area of land. But, when he was young, he made many white Americans afraid and his name was used as a way of stopping children from behaving badly. This is his story (600 words).
The History of Lobotomy
Science - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
A lobotomy is an operation on the human brain. Doctors do lobotomies because they want to change people’s personalities. This article tells the terrible story of the history of lobotomy and shows how we still use this operation today on children – some of them are as young as three years old. If you read this, you may never trust medical science again! (680 words)
Massacre at the Palace
Crime - Pre-Intermediate - Free
The history of Nepal is very troubled. Although the country is beautiful because of its mountains – Everest is in Nepal – and rivers, and its wonderful capital, Kathmandu, it has also had a terrible civil war. One evening in the middle of that war, the King was talking with his family about a wife for his oldest son, Prince Dipendra. An hour later, the King and Queen and most of their family were dead, killed by Dipendra. Or were they? (660 words)
The Last Pharaoh of Egypt
History - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
The name of Cleopatra will live for ever. Two thousand years after she died, she is still a symbol of beauty and intelligence. But she was also dangerous. She killed her young brothers; she had a baby with Julius Caesar; and she caused Marc Antony’s death. Famously, she died by putting a snake on her breast. But Cleopatra was also an educated woman in a man’s world. Read her story here (990 words).
Catherine the Great
History - Pre-Intermediate - Free
When Catherine the Great was born in 1729, Russia was not one of the most important countries in Europe. But, when she died in 1796 after thirty-five years at the head of her government, it was one of the strongest and also a centre for art and ideas. Catherine started schools, opened the world-famous Hermitage museum, and tried to make life easier for the poor at the same time as she made Russia larger and more powerful. But Catherine was born an unimportant princess of a poor, small German land. Who was this surprising woman? (1,330 words)
The Beginning of Human Life
Science - Pre-Intermediate - Free
This article tells us how scientists explore where we came from and who we are. It talks about different ideas of who we are and why some early peoples died out and others survived and became human beings. Of course, we cannot know anything about this for certain but this article will help you to understand the most important ideas today (900 words)
The First Computer
Science - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
We usually think of the computer as a very modern invention: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, maybe Alan Turing. However, this article takes us back two hundred years to the birth of the first calculating machine and tells the story of two very different people, Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace and the necessary parts they played in making the first computing machine (870 words).
Pi - Π
Science - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
Pi is one of the strangest ideas in mathematics. It is not a whole number and it never repeats the pattern of numbers that occur. It is necessary to calculate the area and volume of many shapes and, without it, we could never manage to understand how big circles are. But where did we get the idea of pi from and how did it change modern maths? (700 words)
Table Tennis
Sport - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
Table tennis was often played inside a house when it was too cold, wet or dark to play tennis in the garden outside. British soldiers in South Africa and India often could not play their favourite game and so they started to use tables inside their houses. At first, they used a tennis ball and broke a lot of windows but slowly table tennis became a game with its own rules, ball and bat. Read more about it here (660 words).
Tae Kwon Do
Sport - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
Tae kwon do is the martial art of Korea and one of the most popular in the world. It has taken a lot from Japan and China, but it has also become a sport with its own rules. The name ‘tae kwon do’ means ‘kick and punch’. It became very popular in the Korean War in the 1950s but it started hundreds of years before. Read more about it here (550 words).
High Heels
Fashion - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
High heeled shoes are not comfortable but they look very beautiful. They are the ‘must have’ accessory for many women, but it may surprise you to know that men have also worn them for their work. Did you know that butchers in Ancient Rome used them to keep their feet out of the blood on the floor? Read about high heel shoes in this short article and you’ll soon understand that they are not only for short people! (650 words)
Cosmetics
Fashion - Pre-Intermediate - Free
This interesting but short article looks at the history of make-up from the Ancient Egyptians to modern times. It takes us from the Arab world to India and Europe and also looks at the size of today’s cosmetics industry. From perfume to lipstick, from animal rights to skin whitener, this article has something for everyone (730 words).
What Was the Great Food Exchange?
Food - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
When Europeans arrived in South America, they made empires and became unbelievably rich. They killed tens of thousands of local people, destroyed their religions and brought deadly diseases but they also changed how the world ate. They discovered tobacco and the potato but also gave the ‘new’ continent crops like wheat. Read this short article about how the Spanish arrival in Latin America changed the way the world ate (300 words).
Chess
Sport - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
In Persia, more than a thousand years ago, people developed the game of chess and encouraged the young to play it because they believed it helped them to think. It is a game where chance plays no part and you need to have a good memory, but it seems you don’t need to be especially intelligent. Read more about how to play this game and about its long history (650 words).
Polo
Sport - Pre-Intermediate - Free
Polo is a game that is thousands of years old. It probably came from Iran. The idea is to hit a ball with a long stick when you are riding a horse. In ancient times, it wasn’t a ball but the head of an enemy you had killed in wartime. The British made the game famous when they discovered it in India and many rich people still play today. But you must be rich because horses are not cheap (720 words).
Hair Styles
Fashion - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
The history of hair styles is interesting because it shows us that human beings always want something different. And it is not only women that spend a lot of money on their hair. For most of history, men have also worn their hair long and spent hours on making it look beautiful and unusual. Read all about in this article (750 words).
Golf
Sport - Pre-Intermediate - Free
Golf is a very popular game these days and it is one that is also very expensive. It’s one of the very few games that old and young people can play, men and women. And so it is surprising that golf was only played in Scotland until the nineteenth century. Read about the history of this game and how it is different from all other sports (600 words).
The Bikini
Fashion - Pre-Intermediate - Premium
The bikini is in the news again as Muslim women have been told they cannot wear a burkini (a version that covers all the body) on some beaches in Europe. This piece of clothing is named after the island where an atom bomb was exploded to test its power - and it's effects were explosive in many ways (400 words).

Intermediate level titles

Edgar Allan Poe - Liar, Cheat and Genius
Biography - Intermediate - Free
Poe lived a disappointing life. He never made any money from his stories or poems and, when he got the chance to make good, he was always too drunk or high to take it. It is hard to know the truth about his life because he also lied all the time. However, his horror stories are now masterpieces of American literature. Read about his extraordinary life and death. (1,600 words)
Banjo Paterson - Australian Hero, Writer and Legend
Biography - Intermediate - Free
Andrew Barton Paterson was a lawyer but his true love was the Australian countryside, called 'the outback'. His stories are usually about farmers, their animals and the hard life of living far from neighbours and friends. He is perhaps Australia's best-known writer. This is the story of his life. (820 words)
Dr. Crippen’s name was well-known in Britain long, long after he died. He was hanged because he murdered his wife. In fact, he behaved like a guilty man. He ran away from his home with his lover after the police searched it. He was trying to get to Canada. We know his wife was sleeping with other men. But when the body found at his home was examined many years after his death, it was not a woman’s body at all (860 words).
Cricket
Sport - Intermediate - Premium
Cricket is the most English of games, but it is far more popular in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh than it is in its home country. The Scots, Irish and Welsh never enjoyed it and foreigners can’t believe that a game can last for days and, in the end, there is often no winner. Find out about cricket and, perhaps become a fan (900 words)
Aileen Wuornos
Crime - Intermediate - Premium
Aileen Wournos was beaten and sexually abused as a child. She left home as early as she could and became a prostitute but later developed a warm relationship with another woman. Aileen murdered her male customers to get their money to buy her girlfriend presents but when she was caught, her lover sold her story to the newspapers (970 words).
The Deadly History of Anaesthesia
Science - Intermediate - Free
It was not many years ago that a doctor had to decide between operating to save a person’s life but perhaps killing him from the pain or leaving him to die. For this reason, the most important part of the operation was speed. Anaesthesia was, therefore, necessary not just to save a patient’s life but also to allow for longer and more difficult operations. But the development of this science reads like a horror story (1,750 words).
Since time began, disease has worried and killed huge numbers of people. New viruses are not something that we have only today. The Black Death killed nearly half the population of Europe six hundred years ago and malaria takes the lives of 300 million every year. People thought that disease was God’s punishment for human wrongdoing but now we think about viruses and bacteria. Read this article and find out more (910 words).
The Kray Twins - London Gangsters
Crime - Intermediate - Free
In the 1960s, the Kray Twins were as famous in London as the Mafia was in the US. They used the same methods too: murder, violence and fear. They knew rich and famous people and appeared in fashionable magazines. In the end, the police put them in prison: one was mad and gay; the other hard and straight. Read their incredible story (1,090 words).
Who Was Simon Bolivar?
History - Intermediate - Premium
Many countries are called by the names of the people living there, but there are very few that have the name of a political hero. Bolivia is one that does. Why did a country call itself after a man who was not even born there? The truth is that Simon Bolivar was a freedom fighter of enormous importance – he warred against the Spanish and freed much of Latin America from their rule. This is his story (930 words).
Who Was Piltdown Man?
Science - Intermediate - Premium
The Piltdown Man was one of the most serious scientific jokes of the twentieth century and it all happened because of disagreements about evolution. Charles Darwin argued that there was a clear link between monkeys and men but others said that the difference between the two was so great that there must be a missing link. And then, a hundred years ago, some old bones were found that showed a skeleton with some characteristics of a monkey and others of a man. But did this monkey-man ever exist? (440 words)
Lucky Lucan - the Lord Who Committed Murder
Crime - Intermediate - Free
Lord Lucan had everything in life: he went to the best schools and universities in England, got a well-paid job as a banker, was married and had much-loved children. But then he became addicted to gambling and lost interest in everything except cards and drink. One night, he went home and tried to kill his wife, who wanted a divorce, and his children. He was never seen again. People reported seeing him in Africa, on ships and many other places. But he had simply disappeared. What happened to Lucky Lord Lucan? (1,180 words)
Who Was Jack the Ripper?
Crime - Intermediate - Premium
Jack the Ripper killed many sex workers on the streets of nineteenth century London, girls who would not be noticed if they went missing. There were so many of these murder cases that they became the talk of the whole country. The police had no suspects and nobody was ever charged with the crimes. This made some people think that the killer was someone with power and the police were afraid to act. Read more! (500 words)
Who Was Frank Sinatra?
Music - Intermediate - Free
Most people learning or improving their English are in their teenage years or twenties. A lot of you have never heard of Frank Sinatra. But there are also students learning English because of a change in job, to make more of their holiday in an English-speaking country or just as a hobby. These people might be older. For them, Frank Sinatra was the star of many Hollywood films, the most famous singer of his generation and a sex symbol. Read about his surprising life, his suspected links with the Mafia and his fame (550 words).
What is a Tsunami?
Science - Intermediate - Premium
On 26 December, 2004, a tsunami hit the coastlines of countries as far away from each other as Japan, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India. More than a quarter of a million people died. Some were on holiday for the Christmas break but most lived in these areas. Their homes were destroyed; there were no roads or railways. But how did this terrible thing happen? Read about tsunamis in this short article (440 words).
The Tulip and the First Speculation Bubble
Flora - Intermediate - Premium
A few hundred years ago, a diplomat in Istanbul fell in love with the tulip, a flower not found in western Europe at that time. He sent bulbs back home so that his friends could grow them in their gardens. Within a century or two, tulips had become a craze in Holland. People bought and sold the bulbs while they were still in the ground. One could cost as much as a house and then, suddenly, it all stopped and people lost everything (900 words)
The Strange Biology of Meat-Eating Plants
Flora - Intermediate - Free
The Venus Fly Trap is a favourite plant among school boys because it catches and eats insects in its powerful ‘jaws’. As the insect moves around inside, its prison becomes more tightly locked. It cannot escape. In fact, many adults buy this plant to keep in their homes too. But why did this plant develop? What were its origins? And where can we find it? If it grew big enough, could it eat human beings? Read this article to find out more (790 words).
The Rose
Flora - Intermediate - Free
The rose is the symbol of love in many western countries. You can find it in every European garden, but it grows all over the world. In the ancient world, roses were so important that Rome suffered food shortages because too much land was given over to grow the flowers. But did you know that the red rose has only been with us for just over a century? Read the history of this fascinating symbol of love (920 words).
The Bamboo
Flora - Intermediate - Premium
There are myths in the Philippines and Vietnam about humanity coming from a part of the bamboo plant. What’s more, the bamboo’s strength and beauty are used in China to show the idea of a gentleman. But, of course, bamboo has practical uses too: for food, for building and more. Perhaps, the most important symbol of the bamboo, though, is the terrible plague of rats that always comes with the flowering of the plant (1,040 words).
There cannot be many scientists in modern times who promise so much but offer so little. Lysenko was a man who cared more about his career and his fame than he cared for science or for his people. He caused the deaths of many scientists who argued that he was wrong and let hundreds of thousands of people die of hunger. So, how did this scientist stay at the top of his profession for so long? (1,220 words)
Shaka Zulu
History - Intermediate - Premium
This is the story of the great Zulu chief, who led his people to victory over other tribes in south-west Africa at a time when they had given up hope. Shaka Zulu was a clever and original military thinker who did not kill enemy soldiers after they were beaten but encouraged them to join him. But Shaka Zulu lost the love of his people when his mother died and sadness drove him crazy. Read his story (1,055 words).
The Deadly Profession of Orchid Hunting
Flora - Intermediate - Free
When we think of orchids, we perhaps imagine five-star hotels or the wonderful country, Thailand. Because these exotic plants make us think of beautiful places. But orchids have a long and dangerous history. Read about the adventurers who travelled the world to find new specimens of this unique plant and who risked their lives to do so (1,000 words).
Bruno Sammartino was born just before the Second World War in a mountain village in Italy. He was weak because his mother could not get enough food for the boy to eat. It was hard to imagine in those days that this little boy would become the world champion of wrestling, but that is what happened. He grew into the most famous and best-loved professional wrestler of all time. This is his story (950 words).
Crime in Wartime Britain
History - Intermediate - Free
We often say that war brings people together and we all try to help each other. It’s true, of course, that we are working towards the same goal. But crime is just as real in wartime as it is in peace. Read about the reality of crime in wartime Britain: learn how criminals stole from young soldiers who got drunk before they left home to fight – and perhaps die – in Europe. And much more … (700 words)
Ataturk: The Man Who Made Modern Turkey
History - Intermediate - Premium
Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was one of the greatest soldiers of the First World War, maybe the greatest. He defended his country against Churchill’s armies and won a terrible victory. But he was more than a soldier: he changed the face of modern Turkey. He gave women the vote; he changed the alphabet and Turkish language; and he made Turkey a secular country, not a religious one. This is his story (1,200 words)
There is a statue of Nelson in the heart of London. It stands high above the buildings that surround it. It was built to show a nation’s love of one of its greatest military men – a sailor who beat Napoleon Bonaparte and stopped the French advance across Europe. But Nelson was not only a hero. He had a romance which was almost as famous as his battles (1,310 words).
Lawrence of Arabia
History - Intermediate - Free
T. E. Lawrence went to the best schools and was a promising academic at a great English university. He earned his place in history as a British soldier who led the Arabs to fight against the Ottoman Turks in the First World War. A man who was never comfortable with the British upper class, Lawrence found a home among the Bedouin but he lost it and his honour amongst the Arabs because he could not keep his promise (1,100 words)
Field Marshal Erwin Rommel
History - Intermediate - Premium
Erwin Rommel was a professional soldier. He fought in the First World War as a brave and intelligent warrior. In the Second World War, he once again fought for his country when Adolf Hitler was the leader of Germany. In North Africa, he was the most famous and respected German general, but he died soon after for trying to kill Hitler. Who was this great soldier who loved his country but tried to kill its leader? (1,055 words)
Bill Slim was a good student but his parents didn’t have enough money to send him to university and so Bill left school to become a primary teacher. But education was not going to be Slim’s future. In the First World War, he fought bravely and became an officer and, when the Japanese entered the Second World War, he led the fight against them in South Asia, destroying their armies before they could reach India. Read the story of this much-loved soldier (1,110 words).
Antibiotics
Science - Intermediate - Premium
This short article gives us a brief history of antibiotics from the days when people ate spiders’ webs for their antibiotic qualities to the discovery of penicillin by Alexander Fleming in the months before the Second World War. What’s sure is that antibiotics have changed modern medicine and made the world a much safer place. But it is also certain that many diseases can now escape the effects of this wonder drug (530 words).
A Short History of the Machine Gun
History - Intermediate - Premium
The machine gun was first used in the American Civil War of 1861 to 1865. Its effects were terrible and, so, sales of the weapon immediately increased, as more and more countries wanted to buy this deadly new piece of arms technology. Read about the history of the machine gun, a weapon that governments, armies and rebels still buy today (1,000 words)
Two Friends
Guy de Maupassant - Intermediate - Premium
Guy de Maupassant was a young man when Prussia (a part of what soon became Germany) attacked and defeated France in a few weeks. This story is one of many he wrote about that war and tells the story of two old fishing friends, who find themselves in deep trouble only because they decided to forget the war and enjoy their hobby for a few hours (1,757 words).
Jean Monette - The Thief who Became a Detective
Eugène François Vidocq - Intermediate - Free
In real life, Eugène Vidocq was a very skilled professional criminal who started his own private detective agency and published the story of his life. He was always in trouble even in his very old age. This story is one he wrote about a young man who falls madly in love with the innocent daughter of a wealthy man who never likes to spend a penny. It is a real case (1,680 words).
Madam Crowl's Ghost
Sheridan le Fanu - Intermediate - Premium
This is one of the most popular ghost stories of all time. It tells the tale of a very old lady and the young girl who is paid to sit and watch her, get her food and drink and make sure she is happy. But the old lady is starting to lose her mind and, in her madness, she tells a terrible secret from her past (4,500 words).
The Bottle Imp
Robert Louis Stevenson - Intermediate - Free
In this classic tale of horror, Robert Louis Stevenson tells us about a magical force that can give the owner of the bottle it lives in three wishes. At first, the hero welcomes the bottle imp because it can give him the money he needs to make a start in life, to attract a wonderful girl and live a comfortable life. But soon things start to go very wrong (7,440 words).
The Nightingale and the Rose
Oscar Wilde - Intermediate - Premium
Oscar Wilde was as famous for his sense of humour as he was for his plays and novel. In this short story, he builds a beautiful romance where a nightingale is prepared to give her life for a student’s love for a beautiful girl. Sadly, things do not end as we might hope (1,820 words).
The Kiss
Kate Chopin - Intermediate - Free
In this rather naughty story, the heroine has decided that money is more important in a husband than love. She knows that her unattractive target is about to ask to marry her, but then something goes very wrong. But, in the end, she believes she has both riches and affection … or does she? (970 words)
A Slander
Anton Chekhov - Intermediate - Free
Chekhov is regarded as the greatest teller of short stories who has ever lived. In this clever little tale, he tells us about a misunderstanding at a party, where a guest believes the school history teacher has kissed his servant. The gossip goes from one person to another with many unexpected results. But why did the guest make up such a lie? (1,380 words)
The Body Snatcher
Robert Louis Stevenson - Intermediate - Free
Stevenson was the creator of the legendary Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the dual personality which has become a part of the English language. It should be no surprise, then, that Stevenson wrote many other horror and fantasy stories. This one is about a body snatcher, a man who steals corpses from their graves or, worse, murders people to sell their bodies to scientists for research (2,500 words)
A Lost Opportunity
Leo Tolstoy - Intermediate - Premium
This short story by Tolstoy concerns good relations with neighbours is the key to a happy and peaceful home life. When that is lost, not only friendship suffers but also the farms on which they live. (4,930 words)
Sixpence
Katherine Mansfield - Intermediate - Premium
A worried mother is unhappy and ashamed in front of a guest at her home that she cannot control her young son. He does not listen to her and seems uncontrollable. Her guest’s young sons, on the other hand, are perfectly behaved. The key to this mystery, her guest tells the tired mother, is that their father hits them when they have been naughty (2,000 words)
Silverhorns
Henry van Dyke - Intermediate - Premium
Henry van Dyke tells the story of a man who, for many years, has spent his holidays trying to kill a moose. On his way back to his regular life and job, he tells how he hunted the animal for days, how he just missed shooting it, how it returned after a couple of days and how he and his friends finally tracked it down. But as he comes to the end of the story, there is a surprise for both the story teller and the train driver who listens to him (2,600 words)
Antwerp Road
Henry van Dyke - Intermediate - Free
In this very short story, van Dyke analyses the terrible misery of war. He describes a road from the Belgian city of Antwerp, crowded with people trying to escape the German invasion but, at the same time, there are thousands returning to their broken homes because they are tired of being strangers away from everything they know (500 words).
The Necklace
Guy de Maupassant - Intermediate - Premium
‘The Necklace’ is about a young wife who was born for all of the best things in life, but has married a low-paid clerk in a government ministry. Even when they’re invited to a fantastic party for the rich and famous, she’s unhappy because she’ll have nothing special to wear. Her husband buys her a dress (that he can’t really afford) and she borrows a diamond necklace. But that is exactly when her problems start (2,280 words).
A Piece of Bread
François Coppée - Intermediate - Premium
This story is one of many French pieces which is about the war with Germany in 1870. A wealthy, young Frenchman joins the Army to defend his country against its enemies. Conditions are terrible and he misses the luxurious life he led before. One day, he throws a piece of bread in the dirt but it is quickly picked up by another soldier. His story and their friendship change his life (1,800 words)
Dalyrimple Goes Wrong
F Scott Fitzgerald - Intermediate - Free
F. Scott Fitzgerald is best-known for his novel, ‘The Great Gatsby’, but spent most of his time writing short stories because they brought him in more money… and he and his wife, Zelda, had expensive tastes. In this story, he tells us about a soldier who returns to the U.S. after The First World War to a hero’s welcome. Unfortunately, he cannot get well-paid work and soon turns to crime (3,200 words)
The Ablest Man in the World
Edward Page Mitchell - Intermediate - Free
This story is a piece of science fantasy that makes us think of the computer that was only invented many decades after it was written. An American becomes involved in helping a Russian diplomat, when he is mistaken for a doctor. While he is giving him some medicine, he notices that his head is very unusual and sets out to learn his secret (2,590 words).
The Black Cat
Edgar Allan Poe - Intermediate - Premium
One of the greatest short story writers who ever lived and the master of horror, Edgar Allan Poe tells us about a man’s relationship with his favourite pet black cat, an animal that follows him around the house and even in the streets. But things start to change. We read about the bond between the cat and the man and watch his growing madness develop to its terrible conclusion (1,710 words).
The Stolen Letter
Edgar Allan Poe - Intermediate - Free
Edgar Allan Poe is mostly known for his horror stories. However, he also wrote detective and police stories. In this one, you can read how a politician’s attempt to force a member of the royal family to do what he wants is stopped by a clever but very simple idea (3,270 words)
The Beetle-Hunter
Arthur Conan Doyle - Intermediate - Premium
This story is one of many that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote that does not include his most famous creation, Sherlock Holmes. A young doctor, whose true love is the scientific study of beetles, answers an advertisement in the paper asking for a strong, brave young doctor interested in beetles for temporary work. It seems a strange job but he cannot afford to refuse the money (3,720 words).
Sleepy
Anton Chekhov - Intermediate - Premium
This tragic story is about a girl working as a servant in a house with a baby. She is too young to work so hard and thinks often about her mother and the love she misses in the home of her unkind employers. It’s hard for her to stay awake, but she has to look after somebody else’s baby when she should be playing with her friends or sitting with her family. Tragedy is waiting just around the corner (1,800 words)
John Mortonson's Funeral
Ambrose Bierce - Intermediate - Premium
In this very short story, Bierce describes the funeral of a respected and important public figure. But as his friends stand around the coffin, it starts to move and something unexpected happens (600 words).
History of Anatomy
Science - Intermediate - Premium
From Galen treating gladiators in ancient Rome to Andreas Vesalius and William Harvey pointing out his mistakes then on to the grave robbers Burke and Hare supplying murder victims for doctors to cut open and study, we explore the story of how knowledge of human anatomy developed (650 words)

Upper intermediate level titles

The Lost Decade
F Scott Fitzgerald - Upper-Intermediate - Free
In this short tale, F. Scott Fitzgerald introduces us to a man who was once successful but has been away – we never find out where – and has only just returned to his old city. Here he takes his first walk in the streets that he once knew so well (1,100 words).
The Dead are Silent
Arthur Schnitzler - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
This story, written by an Austrian author, deals with an affair that takes place between a man and a married woman. It’s been going on for a long time and the man is getting tired of the secretive lifestyle they must lead. While the woman loves him deeply, she is always anxious about being discovered because she cannot leave her husband and child. But an accident changes all that, when it is too late (4,720 words).
The Witch
Anton Chekhov - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
Chekhov is the master of the short story, not just in Russian literature but that of the whole world. In this tale, he tells of an unlikely marriage between an older, ugly and poorly educated man and the beautiful daughter of a church caretaker who tries to make sure she can stay in her home after his death. However, the husband is jealous of his attractive wife and believes she can change the weather to get young men to visit their home (3,560 words).
Two Friends
Alexander Kielland - Upper-Intermediate - Free
Alexander Kielland may not be well-known in the English-speaking world but he is described as one of the four ‘greats’ of Norwegian literature. In this unhappy story, he tells the tale of two childhood friends – one charming and attractive and the other hard-working and loyal – who become business partners when they grow up. Sadly, jealousy gets in their way (4,025 words).
About Barbers
Mark Twain - Upper-Intermediate - Free
Mark Twain is best-known for his novels about Tom Sawyer and his friend, Huckleberry Finn, two of the most famous characters in world literature. However, he is also famous for his acidic remarks about nearly every aspect of life and for a writing style that could make his readers laugh about the most serious subjects. Here he turns his attention to barbers (750 words).
Hide and Seek
Fyodor Sologub - Upper-Intermediate - Free
This short story by the Russian writer, Fyodor Sologub, is about the incredibly close bond between a mother and her baby daughter. They often play the children’s game, hide and seek, together until an old servant tells them superstitiously that it will lead to great sadness. The mother believes none of it but the rumour has its effect and she grows very afraid (2,900 words)
Father Wakes up the Village
Clarence Day - Upper-Intermediate - Free
Clarence Day’s memoir of his self-important father, written just before the author’s death, was extremely popular. In this extract, he tells the reader about the evening when there was no ice at home and the dramatic steps his father took to solve the situation. A funny and affectionate portrait (2,210 words).
The Open Door
Saki - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
Saki is the master of comic short stories which have surprising – even shocking – endings. In this very funny piece, a young man who is staying in the country because of a nervous illness visits a neighbour. The young girl he meets though has some unusual stories to tell him that only make his nervous problems much worse (1,000 words)
The Silence of Lady Anne
Saki - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
Saki was a master of short, comic but sometimes cruel stories which made fun of the upper-middle classes and this tale is no exception. In this very short story, Saki describes the atmosphere between a married couple when they meet in the afternoon after an argument at lunch. But there is a surprising ending which you'll love (730 words).
Going to Shrewsbury
Sarah Orne Jewett - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
A hundred years ago, most people living quiet lives in the countryside never left the small towns they worked in. They worked on their land, made enough money to eat and expected to die in their own beds, near to the people they had known all their lives. The old widow in this story wanted the same, but had to leave her farm and start life anew. Her story starts with her first train journey (2,300 words).
Angela
William Schwenk Gilbert - Upper-Intermediate - Free
W. S. Gilbert’s story of a poor and sick man, living alone in Venice and looked after by a housekeeper, is a beautiful love story. Forced to spend his days lying down next to his window, he watches a young girl year after year in the reflection she makes in the water of one of Venice’s canals. Slowly, they become friends and the man starts to feel love for the girl – a love he believes she shares, despite everything (1,700 words)
Mateo Falcone
Prosper Merimée - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
Honour is a way of life in islands like Sicily and Corsica, where people are poor but know what is right. They offer hospitality to the helpless who ask for kindness. But what happens when this unwritten law is broken? In this story, a man famous for his bravery returns home to find one of his own family has shamed him (2,900 words)
The Adventure of the Engineer's Thumb
Arthur Conan Doyle - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
We of course know that Dr. Watson always helps his friend, Sherlock Holmes, in his cases. However, in this story it is Watson who brings the case to the detective’s attention. Once again, things are not as they appear at first sight and Holmes soon begins to understand and solve another crime. Unfortunately, he cannot give the engineer his thumb back though (5,350 words)
The Sheriff's Children
Charles W. Chesnutt - Upper-Intermediate - Free
Charles Chesnutt explores the injustices that slavery created in this excellent short story about the actions of a decent and brave lawman, as he refuses to allow his neighbours to hang an Afro-American suspected of committing murder in a small town after the American Civil War. However, the man has a secret in his past that the crime is about to reveal (5,000 words)
Death in the Woods
Sherwood Anderson - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
Sherwood Anderson wrote short stories in a very realistic tradition, often focussing on the poor and helpless. In this tale, he introduces us to an old woman who, all her life, has been the victim of poverty and unkindness. She is invisible, living outside her community, expecting nothing and getting only that (3,520 words).
The Camel
Animals - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
People have used camels in war and they have drunk their milk and eaten their meat. We race them and pay huge sums of money for the most beautiful and fastest animals. We have explored unknown lands with them and exported them to foreign countries. Read about our very special relationship with this extraordinary animal (1,330 words).
The Monkey’s Paw
W. W. Jacobs - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
‘The Monkey’s Paw’ is very often found in short story collections and has been translated into many languages. It is especially sad, therefore, that its author never became successful in his lifetime and died of cancer and hunger. This classic horror story uses the well-known formula of a charm that can give its owner three wishes, but he gets more and less than he hoped for (3,470 words).
The Happy Prince
Oscar Wilde - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
Oscar Wilde may have written this as a bedtime story for his two young sons. Like others of his children’s stories, it has a religious tone that is absent from his plays and his novel. It tells the story of a statue of a prince who lived a very careless life, interested only in luxury and pleasure. Now that he can see the sufferings of the poor from the top of his pillar, he wants to help. Luckily, he finds a bird to carry out his plans (3,020 words).
The Singing Lesson
Katherine Mansfield - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
In the early twentieth century, a woman who could not find herself a husband in England was not complete. So, the reader can imagine the music teacher’s great happiness when an attractive man much younger than herself asks to marry her. But the course of true love is not always smooth, as we find out in this typical Mansfield story (1,500 words)
A Respectable Woman
Kate Chopin - Upper-Intermediate - Free
Mrs. Baroda was not happy when her husband invited an old friend to spend some time at their country home. She had been looking forward to being alone with her husband after a busy few weeks spent with friends. To make matters worse, she was less impressed with the quiet man when he arrived – he did not seem to be half the man her husband had described. But then things changed … (1,300 words)
The Country Doctor
Ivan Turgenev - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
Turgenev is the Russian master of the short novel but, unlike Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, he is more interested in people’s feelings and actions than their beliefs and philosophies. Here he tells the tale of a provincial doctor who, glad of the chance of educated company in the village where he lives, tells his patient about the love of his life (3,760 words).
The Adventure of the Solitary Cyclist
Arthur Conan Doyle - Upper-Intermediate - Free
Sherlock Holmes is not usually interested in the stories of young ladies. As he says himself, Dr. Watson is more of an expert in that area. However, in this story, he makes an exception because he is worried about the girl’s safety. Find out how Holmes and Watson save her from a clever trick and some very nasty characters (5,570 words).
London
Geography - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
This article rushes you through the history of this famous capital city, its transport system and its geography, its food and weather, but most of all it introduces you to the people of London – both the stereotypes and the modern reality (1,100 words)
Kim Philby, The Spy who Betrayed his Country and his Class
Espionage - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
For many years, Kim Philby was seen in Britain as the traitor who betrayed his country, his class and his friends. He had a privileged upbringing, was highly intelligent and had money. But he also believed that the world would be a better place if each of us gave according to our abilities and only earnt what we needed for a decent life. He became the most notorious Soviet spy in British history (1,260 words).
W. H. Davies - A Poet of Wales and a Tramp
Biography - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
W. H. Davies led an action-packed life and one that made his family very unhappy as a young man. He got into trouble with the police, lost a leg when he was trying to jump onto a moving train without buying a ticket and lived as a homeless person all over Britain. And all the time he wrote poetry. Read his story (1,425 words).
Yerba Mate - the hot drink that started a war
Food - Upper-Intermediate - Free
Yerba mate is a drink which originated in Latin America. It is made from aromatic leaves and was so popular with the Catholic monks who came to the continent to spread their religion that they made the local Indians rich. But many people were jealous of the Indians’ ability to grow the trees to make this popular drink and a terrible war began. We often see this as a war about religion and power but, in fact, it was all about a drink (920 words).
The Chappaquiddick Incident
Crime - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
The Kennedy family is a political dynasty in America. J.F. Kennedy was the much-loved President in the early ‘60s, before he was assassinated. His younger brother, Bobby, shared the same cruel end. Perhaps, Teddy Kennedy would have become President himself, but a strange incident which involved the death of a young woman prevented him reaching the highest office. Read Teddy Kennedy’s story (1,300 words).
Tea
Food - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
After water, tea is still the most popular drink in the world. It has a long history in Asia, but was first brought from China to Europe about four hundred years ago. In the beginning, merchants put ready-made tea into barrels and then shipped it from China to Europe. It took them quite a long time to realise that they could pack the leaves and add water back home. However, since that time, tea has grown more and more popular. Read its extraordinary history (1,140 words).
Wine
Food - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
Wine comes in many different forms. Red, white and rosé, even ‘green’ wine, are all popular. For the wine lover, a good bottle is not only a drink, a way of forgetting one’s troubles or even something to make conversation flow more freely. It is an art, perfection in a bottle. Read about the history of wine and the spread of the modern industry all over the world (1,670 words).
Beer
Food - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
Beer. It is the most popular alcoholic drink in the world and makes a fortune for the industry that promotes and sells it. But what were its origins? In fact, it started as a way of making water safe to drink. Drunkenness is not a modern thing: only two hundred years ago, men, women and children drank beer at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Read the fascinating story of this ever-popular drink (910 words).
The Mule
Animals - Upper-Intermediate - Free
The mule is not a natural animal: it is a cross-breed between a donkey and a horse. It is useful to humankind though because it has the speed of one animal and the strength of the other. It is more intelligent than either of its parents, very loyal and extremely brave. Read about the remarkable history of this animal and its relationship to people (1,310 words).
Sheepdogs
Animals - Upper-Intermediate - Free
Sheepdogs. Why do they risk their lives to protect sheep? How does a sheepdog kill a wolf, one of the most dangerous animals in European forests? Why are some dogs great as guard dogs but cannot move sheep from one place to another? Read about shepherds’ relationship with their dogs and how they grow into such useful animals (1,050 words).
Pigeons
Animals - Upper-Intermediate - Free
In many cities, like London, pigeons are a pest. People are told not to feed them and some local councils kill them. But people and pigeons have a long history together. They were used to send messages over long distances. They made a tasty meal and, even today, people still pay high prices for the most beautiful and fastest specimens. Read more about them! (1,190 words)
Voodoo - African Witchcraft
History - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
Voodoo is an exotic religion, the subject of many films and the origin of zombies, the ‘undead’ who walk the land after they have been buried. Voodoo demands human blood and comprises strange rituals that fascinate us as much now as they ever did in Africa millennia ago, before the arrival of the major religions. Read more about this frightening and yet fascinating system of belief (1,320 words).
Tupac Amaru II
History - Upper-Intermediate - Free
In the eighteenth century, a rich man of mixed Indian and European blood, rebelled against the Spanish rulers of Latin America. We will never know exactly why. Perhaps he was angry that he could never be seen as one of the leaders of the land – because of his Indian blood. We know that he believed he was descended from the first great Inca king, Tupac Amaru, and took his name. But his rebellion was a bloody and racist one that caused the deaths of thousands. Read about him here (1,400 words)
Mata Hari: Dancer, Prostitute and Spy
Espionage - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
Mata Hari is one of the most famous spies in history. But she is also a symbol of sexual temptation. In the end, she was shot as a spy in the First World War and died bravely. But what made her the woman she was? Where did she come from? Was she a dancer, a prostitute or a spy or all three? Read her fascinating story (1,300 words).
The White House Farm Murders
Crime - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
Jeremy Bamber was sent to prison for twenty-five years for the multiple murders of his family in 1986. He has always refused to say that he is guilty and so remains behind bars, although the twenty-five years have passed. Read about the facts surrounding the case and decide for yourself if this man should still be imprisoned (1,430 words).
The Vietnam War
History - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
The Vietnam War will always be remembered as the war that the United States lost at the height of its strength as a superpower. The Vietnamese had fought against the Japanese in the Second World War and the French colonists afterwards, before America decided to support the south of the country in the war against Communism. Read about the terrible events that led to the US defeat (1,300 words)
John Haycraft - Founder of International House
Biography - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
John Haycraft is not a very well-known figure. He did not win wars, govern countries, star in films or run races. However, as you are reading this introduction, it is sure that he has had an effect on your life. John Haycraft was a pioneer in the field of teaching English to non-native students of the language and a man who believed that communication between nations makes the world a more interesting and safer place (1,385).
Did you know that George Washington fought for the British Army against the French and that he was refused the chance to become a permanent officer? What turned this Virginia farmer into the general who forced the British out of America? Why did this loyal supporter of the British change his mind? Read this article and find out the circumstances that changed a man’s mind and so changed the world (1,070 words).
Genghis Khan
History - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
Genghis Khan’s name is still used in the West to mean great cruelty and it is true that, even in the very bloody and violent times that he lived, this great warrior was feared all over Europe. Genghis Khan would kill the whole population of any city that refused to surrender to his army. But he also built an empire from Korea in the East to Poland in the West. This is his story (1,300 words)
Istanbul is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It joins the continents of Europe and Asia and there is water everywhere one looks. It is no surprise then that many Greeks still feel the loss of the city that they continue to call Constantinople. In this article, we can learn about the terrible battle which gave Sultan Mehmet the city and where the Byzantine Emperor Constantine lost the last of an empire and his life (1,540 words).
Country and Western Music
Music - Upper-Intermediate - Free
Country and western music is a major industry, especially in the United States, where it is popular all across the South. But its appeal is wider than just among cowboys. Although it was initially popular only among white people, that has changed in recent years as more and more radical artists have sung in the genre (860 words).
Coffee
Food - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the world and for many of us it is almost impossible to start the day without a cup of it. But coffee is not a modern invention. It was first grown in Ethiopia, still the home of some of the best coffee in the world. It then crossed the Red Sea into Arabia and in eighteenth century Europe, it was a sensation. Read more about the energising history of this wonderful drink (1,150 words)
Chocolate
Food - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
If you love chocolate – if you are a chocoholic – you will be fascinated by this article. It looks at the history of this drink and sweet, its almost religious quality in Central America, its violent arrival in Europe and the industry that it has generated today. A delicious delight for all chocolate lovers (1,125 words).
Blood
Science - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
Until recently, blood was simply blood. But in recent years, we have discovered different blood types and that can literally save our lives when we need transfusions. All blood can be categorised as Rhesus positive or negative, but why this should be the case, we have no idea. We also know nothing about why human beings have four blood types but cows have 800. Read this article to find out more about the mysteries of our blood (900 words).
Are Human Beings Aquatic Apes?
Science - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
In this article, different theories are examined which explain how and why apes developed into human beings. This is a controversial article that will anger those of you who believe people were created as we are now. But it will also annoy those of you that have very definite opinions about human evolution. Read it but don’t say that nobody warned you (1,110 words).
Salsa
Music - Upper-Intermediate - Free
When Fidel Castro overthrew the government in Cuba and began to make his revolutionary society, he faced a problem at once: how to start the people working and stop them dancing. And the dance was salsa. Although salsa originated in Central and Latin America, it has spread all over the world and influenced many other genres. Read more about it here (1,160 words).

Advanced level titles

Pablo Escobar graduated from selling marijuana to exporting cocaine and, in the process, built up a drugs empire that made him more powerful than government ministers. He was cruel and dangerous. But for many years, he escaped justice. This is his story (1,950 words).
Forensic Science
Science - Advanced - Premium
There are many stories about Sherlock Holmes on this site. One of the reasons the fictional detective was so successful was that he carefully observed everything around him. However, even Holmes could not compete with the astonishing array of scientific techniques available to the police today. This article introduces us to some of these (1,504 words).
Europeans & Amerindians: A Fatal Encounter
History - Advanced - Free
Before Columbus discovered what he thought was India at the end of the fifteenth century, the Americas were unknown to Europeans. Yet, within a few decades, the whole southern area of the continent was dying, enslaved or in hiding. Where the Spanish found gold, they gave back disease, death and captivity (900 words)
Clouds
Geography - Advanced - Free
There’s a lot of talk these days about the state of the planet. Children at primary school learn about the dangers facing our forests and rivers, the effects of global warming on glaciers and ice. Yet we hear very little about clouds. This article explains to us the different types of clouds and their importance for humankind (900 words).
Charles Dickens
Biography - Advanced - Free
Dickens is the most famous novelist ever to write in English. He was admired by contemporaries as diverse as Edgar Allan Poe and Leo Tolstoy. His novels teem with larger-than-life characters that have become part of the literary landscape. This article discusses the man behind the literary giant, his beliefs and personal life (1,940 words).
A Ponzi scheme is one that gives an incredibly high interest rate because it uses incoming capital to pay investors their dividends. Charles Ponzi robbed thousands of people of their savings before his scheme collapsed and he went to prison for the last time. This is his story (1,500 words)
Architecture
Science - Advanced - Free
Human beings have depended on good architecture since they stopped living in caves and started building their homes. It is now a very sophisticated science (and art perhaps) which affects most people's lives. Read about its history and how it developed (1,180 words)
Al-Biruni
Science - Advanced - Premium
Al-Biruni was a Muslim scholar who was born at the end of the 10th century and wrote over 140 books. He was interested in astrology, pharmacy, mathematics, philosophy, medicine, physics, mineralogy and languages. Read about his remarkable achievements and the world he lived in (1,330 words).
There can be few examples of cruelty and superstition so sadistic in history as that of the treatment of so-called 'witches', usually older women living alone who were burnt, mutilated, drowned and crushed as agents of the Devil. This article details the ways in which 'witches' were viewed at different times in history and the terrible punishments used to destroy them (1,750 words).
Today, calculus is an essential part of modern mathematics. In the English-speaking world, Isaac Newton is often credited with its discovery, while in Europe, that honour goes to Gottfried Leibniz. Both men seemed to arrive at the calculus from different perspectives and were interested in different areas of it, but that did not stop them arguing bitterly about who was its creator (1,330 words).
Violette Szabo - World War Two Spy and Hero
Espionage - Advanced - Premium
Szabo was executed as a British spy in a prison camp in Germany at the age of only 23 in 1945. She had been born in France and so could speak the language fluently. She had also lost her husband while he was fighting in the British Army. These two factors made her perfect material to become a spy. This is the story of a very brave young woman (895 words).
The Samurai
History - Advanced - Premium
The samurai are known to every teenager through gaming but the warrior class of Japan was once a powerful political and military force. They could make emperors bend to their will. But there was more than that to them: the samurai were often accomplished poets and philosophers. Read about them in their heyday and find out what became of them when they were disbanded (1,710 words).
Not too long after James Maybrick had married his much younger wife, she was on trial for his murder. What went wrong with the marriage, we will never know, but one explanation might be in the diary he kept hidden, in which he described a series of horrible murders very similar to those committed by Jack the Ripper. Strangely, when Maybrick died, the murders stopped (1,100 words)
The Dreyfuss Affair
History - Advanced - Premium
The French knew they had a spy in their military who was selling secrets to the Germans towards the end of the 19th century. Rather than investigate, they chose to blame the face that didn't fit - a Jewish one. This decision and the subsequent injustices that arose from it caused one of the most significant political scandals of the century. Here's what happened (1,250 words).
The Black Death
Science - Advanced - Premium
This is the story of the plague that spread across North Africa, the Middle East and Europe in the Middle Ages. The Black Death killed as much as a third of the populations of some countries and wiped out whole cities. The article looks at its causes and the terrible effects it had on the people and their ways of life (1,700 words)
Spanish Civil War
History - Advanced - Premium
Read the fascinating background to the Spanish Civil War, one of the great battle grounds between the left and right wing during the 20th Century. Learn what attracted artists, poets and intellectuals to the republican cause, how they lost and how General Franco held on to power for so long (1,370 words).
Shaun Greenhalgh could never sell his own paintings and so came up with the idea of forging great artists’ work. His whole family was involved and each member had a special role. Even when Shaun became very wealthy from his forgeries, he and his family never spent the money on a nice house or luxury cars. It seemed that he was happy just to take revenge on the art world that had rejected him (900 words)
Rivers
Geography - Advanced - Premium
Rivers have played a vital role in the development of human civilisation and continue to do so. Read about the great rivers of the world and the impacts that they have on people's lives (1,050 words).
Percy Toplis was a working class boy who loved to pretend to be from the upper class. He had many schemes to trick the rich out of their money and went to prison for it more than once. His army career was almost as criminal. However, Toplis was involved in a mutiny against his officers and just escaped with his life. He was finally shot while on the run, but many mysteries remain about the circumstances surrounding his death (2,130 words).
Mussolini
History - Advanced - Free
The Italian Fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, called himself ‘Il Duce’ (or The Leader), just as his friend and ally Adolf Hitler used the German ‘Der Führer’. But he ended his days hanging upside down outside a petrol station. This is the story of his rise to power, government and death (2,070 words).
Kim Il Sung
History - Advanced - Premium
There are few places in the world as secretive and as little understood as North Korea. Although the South is booming, even in times of recession, its Communist northern neighbour is on the verge of starvation at the same time as it develops its nuclear weapons programme. This article tells us something about the founder of the country (1,800 words)
Ingrid Betancourt
Crime - Advanced - Premium
Perhaps it has always been true that politics is a dangerous business. President Lincoln was assassinated, for instance, and Pope John Paul II was shot at. The killing of Duke Franz Ferdinand started the First World War. But Ingrid Betancourt was held hostage for six years in the jungles of Colombia, nobody knowing if she was alive or dead. How did it happen? (1,290 words)
Hendy-Freegard
Crime - Advanced - Premium
If it were fiction, everyone would say that it was not plausible, but for ten years Robert Hendy-Freegard managed to keep five people in fear of death by the Irish revolutionary Army. He took their money and their confidence. He was a conman like no other. This is his story (2,040 words).
Frank Abagnale
Crime - Advanced - Premium
Ever since the release of 'Catch Me If You Can', starring Leonardo di Caprio and Tom Hanks, the early life of Frank Abagnale has been well-known and his exploits pretending to be a pilot, doctor and lawyer envied by all of us who lead routine lives but long for adventure. Here's the real story of his life (1,285 words).
Forests
Geography - Advanced - Free
Forests play a vital role in the life of our planet and everything that lives on it. Read about our relationship with forests throughout history, how much we depend on them and how we are destroying them (930 words).
Mateo Falcone
Prosper Merimée - Upper-Intermediate - Premium
Honour is a way of life in islands like Sicily and Corsica, where people are poor but know what is right. They offer hospitality to the helpless who ask for kindness. But what happens when this unwritten law is broken? In this story, a man famous for his bravery returns home to find one of his own family has shamed him (2,900 words)
The Fly
Katherine Mansfield - Advanced - Premium
Katherine Mansfield lost her much-loved brother in The First World War and in this story she explores the feelings of two fathers whose sons were killed in that terrible conflict. She considers their different reactions, the nature of grief as the years pass, and cleverly uses the struggles of an unlucky fly to make her dramatic point (1,850 words).
The Boarded Window
Ambrose Bierce - Advanced - Premium
Bierce’s anonymous storyteller introduces us to an old man living alone, mixing with no-one, and uncovers the terrible tragedy in his past that has turned his dreams to dust. Bierce is a master of the very short story and, in few words, can create an atmosphere and tell a tale that comes back to us again and again, but we never realise this till the final sentences (1,350 words).
The Shot
Alexander Pushkin - Advanced - Premium
Pushkin’s ‘The Shot’ is set at a time when a man would fight to the death if he thought he’d been insulted, just as the author did twenty-nine times until he was killed. The story revolves around an expert shot who refuses to take part in a duel to save his honour. Is it cowardice or is there some hidden reason? (4,270 words)
Petrick’s Lady
Thomas Hardy - Advanced - Premium
Thomas Hardy is known as a great poet and even greater novelist, who pushed the limits of literature in the late nineteenth century. However, his many short stories are not much read nowadays. This is a shame because ‘Petrick’s Lady’ is both a very funny piece and also a story that makes fun of some of the most important social conventions of Hardy’s time (2,445 words).
Sheridan le Fanu is one of Ireland’s best-remembered authors of tales of the supernatural. His most famous piece is ‘Madam Crowl’s Ghost’, but he wrote many more. This is the story of two friends who move into a house that they don’t have to pay for and so can save money. However, the history of the house is so dark that they wonder whether it’s worth the saving (4,800 words)
Sredni Vashtar
Saki - Advanced - Premium
Saki had a miserable childhood. The little boy was brought up by his aunts in a very strict home. We can get an idea of his hated relatives in this story, where a child’s imagination is allowed to die. However, the story, told with Saki’s usual sense of humour, ends with a surprise for the reader (1,550 words).
The Man who would be King
Rudyard Kipling - Advanced - Premium
Kipling wrote children’s stories that will never be forgotten; novels that have been filmed; and poems that inspired a nation, but his tale of two working-class adventurers in nineteenth century British India must rank as one of his greatest works. Even the vast continent of India was hardly big enough for their imaginations and so they set out to become kings. But …. (7,660 words)
The Wolves of Cernogratz
Saki - Advanced - Free
In this very short story, Saki explores the idea that money is more important than blood. A very wealthy family has bought an old castle and are sitting down to dinner there with an old lady who works for them and some guests, when the wolves outside start to howl. The old lady announces that a member of the ancient family that once owned the property is about to die … (1,580 words)
Markheim
Robert Louis Stevenson - Advanced - Premium
Stevenson is best-known for his children’s novel, ‘Treasure Island’, as well as his novella’ ‘The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’, but he wrote horror stories too. This one concerns a young man making a deal with the Devil after he commits a dreadful crime. He can escape with the help of Satan or face the hangman (4,290 words).
Two Brave Young Men
James Joyce - Advanced - Premium
In this story taken from Joyce’s first book, a collection of short stories called ‘Dubliners’, the reader gets an understanding of two young men who are not as respectable as they should be. Trading on girls’ feelings, they enjoy themselves at their expense and seem to have no conscience about doing so. A piece that is as Irish as it could possibly be (2,800 words).
Eveline
James Joyce - Advanced - Free
Taken from James Joyce’s collection of short stories, ‘Dubliners’, ‘Eveline’ is about a girl who is torn between the love she feels for the first man who has ever cared for her and is offering her married life overseas and the duty she feels to her difficult but helpless father (1,710 words).
Counterparts
James Joyce - Advanced - Premium
‘Counterparts’ is about an alcoholic husband and father who cares more for a drink than he does for his job. We can almost taste the whiskey and smell the pubs he drinks it in, as Joyce tells us of his night out in Ireland’s capital. At the same time, he explores an anti-hero who lives for the moment and for himself (3,820 words).
Cool Air
H.P. Lovecraft - Advanced - Premium
H. P. Lovecraft is best remembered today for his horror stories, but in ‘Cool Air’ he explores a different style of writing, mixing his favourite theme with science fiction. Although the story is set a hundred years ago, Lovecraft invents a scientific fantasy with chilling results for his characters and for his readers (2,470 words).
Suicides
Guy de Maupassant - Advanced - Free
Guy de Maupassant was an extremely successful writer of short novels and stories, who became wealthy from his writing and was admired by the best authors of his day. His works have been available ever since they were first penned. Why, then, did this talented man try to kill himself and spend his last days in a mental hospital before dying at the age of forty-two? This is his only short story about suicide (1,530 words).
Alexandre
Guy de Maupassant - Advanced - Free
In this very short story, the French master of the genre tells a charming tale of an old servant, his master (who is an ex-military man) and mistress, who live together in great unhappiness because the retired captain has a very bad temper. Nothing pleases him. Yet, in their own ways, the old lady and her servant are happy. De Maupassant tells us why (1,380 words).
The Other Two
Edith Wharton - Advanced - Premium
Edith Wharton is one of America’s most respected authors. Her classic turn-of-the-century novels deal with the differences in society’s expectations of men’s and women’s behaviour and tend to end tragically. However, in this story, Wharton focuses comic attention on a woman who has had three husbands – all still living – and describes what happens when they re-enter her new family’s life (5,290 words).
The Adventure of the Beryl Coronet
Arthur Conan Doyle - Advanced - Premium
In this classic Sherlock Holmes mystery, the legendary detective probes the disappearance of a valuable stone from a national treasure. All the clues point in one direction, but are the English police force missing something? (5,100 words)
The Yellow Wallpaper
Charlotte Perkins Gilman - Advanced - Premium
Written in 1892, ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ describes the treatment of a late nineteenth century doctor’s wife, who suffers a nervous breakdown. The reader only slowly understands her unhappiness, as Perkins Gilman uncovers piece by piece the obsession that is taking hold of her heroine. This is a classic of feminist literature (5,490 words).
The Horse Thieves
Anton Chekhov - Advanced - Premium
In this classic story of Cossack life in the nineteenth century, Chekhov paints a picture of women and men living wild and carefree lives, while the anti-hero of the story looks on with fear and envy, even while he knows he can never be part of the danger they live and love. A story for those who love adventure and old Russia (4,900 words)
Beyond the Wall
Ambrose Bierce - Advanced - Premium
This story by the American master of the very short tale, Ambrose Bierce, frightens us by what we suspect, rather than what the author actually tells us. There is a sense of horror that never leaves us, as Bierce leads to his mysterious climax (2,000 words)
The Model Millionaire
Oscar Wilde - Advanced - Premium
Wilde is best remembered for his plays and his novel, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’, but he also wrote many and very different short stories. This is a light tale that will amuse the reader who enjoys the beauty of Wilde’s language and his comic gifts (1,790 words).
The Homecoming
Rabindranath Tagore - Advanced - Premium
India’s Nobel Laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, wrote this story in Bengali about a troublesome son of a widowed mother, who just can’t take care of him anymore and agrees to let her brother and his wife look after the lad. Far away from his family, the boy finds life in a strange house in the city not as exciting as he’d imagined (2,040 words).
A Mystery of Heroism
Stephen Crane - Advanced - Premium
Stephen Crane is famous for writing about the American Civil War, a conflict he hadn’t taken part in. In fact, he was never a soldier. Yet, the vividness of his war novel, ‘The Red Badge of Courage’, and his short stories lead us to think he was actually there. This story is a great example of his inventiveness and sensitivity (2,830 words).
A Piece of Steak
Jack London - Advanced - Premium
This story about an old prize fighter who needs to win against a much younger (but less experienced) opponent to keep his family in food will get you as excited as if you were watching it on TV. We follow the fighter through every punch and tactic, and, as we do so, we get to know the man as if he lived next door to us (5,350 words).
The Thames Valley Catastrophe
Grant Allen - Advanced - Free
This story is a nineteenth century equivalent of a modern disaster movie, including a horrendous natural catastrophe, terrifying escapes from near-death experiences and that scenario familiar to every film goer – not being able to convince others that they are in danger. A light read but a pleasant one! (4,160 words)
The Fall of the House of Usher
Edgar Allan Poe - Advanced - Premium
One of the first colour horror films, Poe’s story became a box office smash hit in 1960. It was already the author’s most famous work. In it, a young man visits his childhood friend, Roderick Usher, who is suffering from a mysterious disease of the senses, and his dying sister, Madeline. He watches as disaster seizes the family and the dead come back to drag the living to their graves (2,815 words).
The Lost Special
Arthur Conan Doyle - Advanced - Free
Conan Doyle’s legendary detective, Sherlock Holmes, has made us forget that the author wrote many more stories about crime where his creation plays no part. In this story, we learn about the disappearance of an entire train from the evil mastermind behind the mystery (4,700 words)
The Adventure of the Second Stain
Arthur Conan Doyle - Advanced - Premium
Europe is on the verge of war because of a document written by a too-impulsive head of state, which has been stolen from the home of the British Foreign Minister. The highest politicians in the land visit the remarkable Sherlock Holmes to see if the great detective can pull the continent back from a pointless conflict (5,560 words).
The Passing of Grandison
Charles W. Chesnutt - Advanced - Free
Chesnutt has never received the fame he deserves as an author. Even in his own lifetime, this brave man who chose to live as an Afro-American although he looked white, was criticised first for his radical beliefs and, when he was old, for being a racist himself. In this comic story, Chesnutt shows how a slave got the better of his young master and an old one too (3,950 words).