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Series Descriptions

Most of the books in Heritage History's British Empire Classical Curriculum are part of a series, either by a single author, or by a group of authors under the direction of a specific publisher. Some of these series focus mainly on British history, while others cover a broad range of civilizations.

Whether a series contains only one book about the British Empire or several, it has been included in the table below. A short description of each series is followed by a complete list of book titles. Titles that are included in the British Empire library are highlighted, but all other titles are listed as well, along with the name of the Compact Libraries on which they can be found. We have provided this information because when a student does find an author or a series he enjoys, he often desires to locate similar books. These series descriptions are intended to help interested students identify books and authors of interest to them on other topics besides colonial Britain.

Although an overall description of each series is provided, the content of individual books is not specified in detail. To see a short synopsis of individual books included in the British Empire library, see the Book Summaries page.

Series Title Description Volumes Author
Children's Heroes Life stories of English men-of-action, written for children. 7 of 17 various
Told to the Children Important legends and classical literature retold for children. 1 of 30 various
Cousins of Long Ago Historical Fiction set in pre-modern times. 1 of 11 various
Story of the World World history with particular focus on the British Empire. 2 of 5 Synge
British Histories Storybook histories of England, Scotland, and the British Empire. 3 of 4 Marshall
Stories from English History Selected stories from English history. 1 of 3 Church
Makers of England Juvenile biographies of four English kings and queens. 1 of 4 Tappan
Peeps at History Brief histories of countries in the British Empire. 4 of 7 various
Great Englishmen Collective biographies of prominent English men and women. 2 of 2 Synge
Boer Histories Histories of the South African Boers and the Boer War. 2 of 2 Hillegas
Stories of the Gorilla Country Adventure stories written by the first American to explore central Africa. 3 of 5 Du Chaillu
Asian Histories Introductory Histories of the Far East. 3 of 4 Van Bergen
Sweeter Historical Sketches Sketches of Historical and Literary Boys and Girls. 2 of 6 Sweetser
Nisbet's Self-Help Histories High-school level history of Britain, written for self-study. 2 of 3 various
Romance of Empire Detailed histories of important regions under British dominion. 2 of 7 various

Children's Heroes

The Children's Heroes series was published in the early 1900ís by T. C. and E. C. Jack, and has many of the same positive attributes as their well-known Told to the Children Series. Instead of focusing on literature however, it is a series of biographies, primarily about historical English men-of-action. Several of the "heroes" dealt with in this series were not unambiguously good men, but all lived important and action filled lives which are of great interest to young people.

Children's Heroes by Various Authors
Title sheets eBooks
Story of Robert Bruce   by Lang British Middle Ages, Young Readers 44
Story of Joan of Arc   by Lang Christian Europe, Young Readers 35
Story of Columbus   by Imlach Spanish Empire, Young Readers 34
Story of Francis Drake   by Elton British Middle Ages, Young Readers 37
Story of Raleigh   by Duncan British Middle Ages, Young Readers 36
Story of Lord Clive   by Lang British Empire, Young Readers 32
Story of Captain Cook   by Lang British Empire, Young Readers 34
Story of Napoleon   by Marshall Modern Europe, Young Readers 34
Story of Nelson   by Sellar British Empire, Young Readers 40
Story of Abraham Lincoln   by Hamilton Early America, Young Readers 37
Story of Livingstone   by Golding British Empire 32
Story of H. M. Stanley   by Golding British Empire 32
Story of Lord Roberts   by Sellar British Empire 39
Story of General Gordon   by Lang British Empire 38
Chalmers of New Guinea   by Kelman Unavailable  
Story of Cromwell   by Marshall Unavailable  
Story of Bishop Patterson   by Paget Unavailable  

Told to the Children

The object of this series, published by E. C. and T. C. Jack in Great Britain in the early 1900ís, was to take well known classics from both the western canon and 19th century English literature, and retell the stories in a simple manner for children age 9-12.

The books themselves are short, well written, and beautifully illustrated. An upper elementary age child might be able to read an entire book in less than two hours, and even younger children can sometimes read them independently.

A great deal of the complexity of the original is left out, but in most cases the author focuses on telling a few stories well rather than trying to cover every aspect of the original at a superficial level.

The complete series involves over 30 books, but we have listed here only those that pertain directly to British history, and have already been published by Heritage History. The complete series can be found in our Young Readers collection.

Told to the Children by various authors
Title Compact Library size
Stories from Gulliver's Travels   by Lang British Empire, Young Readers 33
Celtic Tales   by Chisholm British Empire 42
King Arthur's Knights   by Macgregor British Middle Ages, Young Readers 36
Stories from Ballads   by Macgregor British Middle Ages 36
Stories from Dante   by Macgregor Christian Europe 41
Stories of Siegfried   by Macgregor Christian Europe, Young Readers 37
Stories from Pilgrim's Progress   by Macgregor British Middle Ages, Young Readers 37
Uncle Tom's Cabin   by Marshall Early America, Young Readers 48
Stories of Beowulf   by Marshall British Middle Ages, Young Readers 29
Stories of Robin Hood   by Marshall British Middle Ages, Young Readers 38
Stories of Roland   by Marshall Christian Europe, Young Readers 33
Stories of William Tell   by Marshall Christian Europe, Young Readers 31
Stories of Guy of Warwick   by Marshall Christian Europe, Young Readers 31
Stories of Wagner   by Smith Modern Europe 35
Stories from the Old Testament   by Chisholm Young Readers 36
Stories from the Life of Christ   by Kelman Young Readers 44
Stories from the Iliad   by Lang Ancient Greece, Young Readers 36
Stories from the Odyssey   by Lang Ancient Greece, Young Readers 37
Stories from the Arabian Nights   by Steedman Young Readers 42

Story of the World

The Story of the World series comprises a set of five volumes, written at an introductory reading level, that cover all major events in the history of Western Civilization, from stories of Biblical and Babylonian History to the close of the nineteenth century. Each of the fifty or so chapters in each volume, tells the story of some individual or event that is key to understanding the major developments of the era. While statesmen and military commanders figure heavily in the narrative, stories of explorers, scientists, artists, authors, and religious figures are also presented.

The last two volumes of the series are included in the British readers collection because they focus mainly on 18th and 19th centuries, when Britain played a dominant role in much of world history. These were the centuries that saw the rise of colonialism, capitalism, democracy and modernism, and in all events, and in all major conflicts, Britain played a pivotal role.

Story of the World by M. B. Synge
Title Compact Library size
On the Shores of the Great Sea Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome 78
Discovery of New Worlds Christian Europe, British Middle Ages 85
Awakening of Europe Christian Europe, British Middle Ages 90
The Struggle for Sea PowerModern Europe, British Empire 87
Growth of the British EmpireModern Europe, British Empire 89

Cousins of Long Ago

The Our Little Cousin series was introduced by the Page Company in the early 1900's. It was based on the idea of introducing world geography through the stories of children who live in various countries. After its initial success, a new series was initiated, entitled Our Little Cousin of Long Ago. These books differed from the original in that they were centered on ancient civilizations instead of modern ones. Most were set in the midst of important historical events, but the central drama is always fictional, and the historical events and characters play out in the background, rather than the foreground of the story.

Like the original series, the books are intended to focus on the every-day life, beliefs, customs, and livelihoods, of the characters rather than to tell a particular historical tale. In many cases however, the character is present at an important battle, or during the sacking of monastery, or during some other key historical event. But the main plot typically involves the curious adventures of a ten-year-old boy rather than a particular historical incident.

Little Cousins of Long Ago by various authors
Title Compact Library size
Our Little Spartan Cousin of Long Ago   by Cowles Ancient Greece, Young Readers 43
Our Little Athenian Cousin of Long Ago   by Cowles Ancient Greece, Young Readers 36
Our Little Roman Cousin of Long Ago   by Cowles Ancient Rome, Young Readers 37
Our Little Carthaginian Cousin of Long Ago   by Winlow Ancient Rome, Young Readers 36
Our Little Saxon Cousin of Long Ago   by Cowles British Middle Ages, Young Readers 34
Our Little Norman Cousin of Long Ago   by Stein British Middle Ages, Young Readers 41
Our Little Crusader Cousin of Long Ago   by Stein Christian Europe, Young Readers 48
Our Little Celtic Cousin of Long Ago   by Stein British Empire, Young Readers 37
Our Little Viking Cousin of Long Ago   by Johnston Christian Europe, Young Readers 49

H. E. Marshall's British Histories

One of the most famous storybooks of English History is Our Island Story, by H. E. (Henrietta Elizabeth) Marshall. Published in 1905, it was widely read throughout the British Empire for the first half of the twentieth century, and did not go out of print until the mid-fifties. Marshall followed this success with a series of other juvenile history books, written over the following decades, but she is best known for her three part series on the British Isles, beginning with Our Island Story and following with Scotland's Story and Our Empire Story.

Her special talent for writing episodes from history as if they were fairy tales, made her extremely popular with children who were happy to read her books purely for their entertainment value, rather than for serious studies. As she says in her introduction:

I must tell you, though, that this is not a history lesson, but a story-book. There are many facts in school histories, that seem to children to belong to lessons only. Some of these you will not find here. But you will find some stories that are not to be found in your school books,óstories which wise people say are only fairy tales and not history. But it seems to me that they are part of Our Island Story, and ought not to be forgotten, any more than those stories about which there is no doubt.

These three books, together with This Country of Ours, a history of the United States which focuses heavily on the colonial period, provide an excellent introduction to the history of the English speaking people throughout the world, and give a romantic, rather than an analytical overview of the growth and dominance of Great Britain during the nineteenth century. Probably no nation is more responsible for the world-wide spread of modern ideas, including parliamentary democracy and free trade, than Great Britain, and much of modern life is impossible to understand without a grasp of British history. The Marshall books do not attempt to explain these difficult concepts, but rather lay the foundation for understanding the soil from which modernism has sprung.

We have grouped a fifth books with this series, although it is written in a somewhat different vein than the other four. English Literature for Boys and Girls is a superlative introduction to the great works of English Literature, although we suspect its real audience is college-prep oriented high-schoolers, rather than middle-school. Marshall combines fascinating stories about the authors with narrative excerpts from their most famous works. This book should be read by everyone who aspires to learn the great works of the English masters of literature.

British Histories by H. E. Marshall
Title Compact Library size
Scotland's Story British Middle Ages 186
This Country of Ours Early America 186
Our Island StoryBritish Middle Ages, British Empire 230
Our Empire StoryBritish Empire 203
English Literature for Boys and GirlsBritish Middle Ages, British Empire 329

Stories from English History

This three volume collection of famous stories from English History is intended to provide the intermediate student with a moderately detailed version of some of the more famous episodes in English history. It is not a comprehensive history, in that much is left out, and the stories are not necessarily related in a continuous narrative, but each, taken on its own, is entertaining and informative. The History of England is broken into three periods as follows: Vol I: From Julius Caesar to the Black Prince (54 B.C. to 1360 A.D.); Vol II: From Richard II to Charles I (1360 to 1649); Vol III: From the Lord Protector to Queen Victoria (1649 to 1900).

The author of this series is the prolific Alfred J. Church, a prominent author of both Classical and English history for juveniles. He is best known for his collection of Greek and Roman histories and fiction, but he also produced numerous works on English History.

Stories from English History by Alfred J. Church.
Title Compact Library size
Stories from English History: I British Middle Ages 77
Stories from English History: II British Middle Ages 67
Stories from English History: III British Empire 67

Makers of England

This series provides biographies of four of the most important monarchs of England. The life and times of each of the subjects is masterfully told, in a manner accessible to middle school students, or even older grammar school students. The stories of the two early kings of England, Alfred of the Saxons, and William of Normandy, are filled with danger, adventure, battles, and intrigue, which illustrate the rough and difficult times in which they lived, and would likely be especially appealing to boys.

The stories of the two queens, Elizabeth and Victoria, also reflect the eras in which they lived. The Tudor period was transitional, as England began its rise as a sea power, and grappled with the difficulties of the Reformation. The Victorian era was prosperous, modern, and relatively frivolous compared to the earlier, more rugged ages.

Each of these biographies is written to appeal to young students and focuses on the life and character of the subject rather than dwelling on ongoing political events. The childhood of each of the heroes and heroines is given in great detail, and only the most significant political events of their reigns are touched upon.

Makers of History by Eva March Tappan
Title Compact Library size
In the Days of Alfred the GreatBritish Middle Ages 91
In the Days of William the ConquerorBritish Middle Ages 94
In the Days of Queen ElizabethBritish Middle Ages 88
In the Days of Queen VictoriaBritish Empire 101

Peeps at History

The Peeps at History series, in spite of its somewhat silly name, is a well done, wonderfully illustrated, set of clear and succinct histories. Each book is less than 100 pages, including illustrations, and each is organized in a clear and helpful fashion. Obviously, there is little room in such a short book to develop many of the stories of history, but as a quick and painless overview, the Peeps series is quite useful.

Only the volumes that relate to British History are included in the British Collection. The complete Peeps at History series can be found in Heritage History's Intermediate Readers Collection.

Peeps at History by various authors
Title Compact Library size
Peeps at History: Ireland   by Home British Empire 44
Peeps at History: Canada   by Home British Empire 41
Peeps at History: India   by Howe British Empire, Intermediate 45
Peeps at History: Japan   by Finnemore British Empire, Intermediate 55
Peeps at History: France   by Finnemore Christian Europe 37
Peeps at History: Germany   by Finnemore Christian Europe 40
Peeps at History: Barbary Rovers   by Finnemore Intermediate Readers 44

Synge Great Englishmen

These two books are a collection of short biographies of prominent English men and women primarily between the tenth and 18th centuries. Each book includes about twenty short biographies of many of the best known Englishmen during England's rise from the Plantagenet era, to the early years of Empire. The life stories of Venerable Bede, Chaucer, John Milton, Sir Isaac Newton, Wellington, as well as many others are briefly told.

Great Englishmen by M. B. Synge
Title Compact Library size
Great EnglishmenBritish Middle Ages, British Empire 63
Great EnglishwomenBritish Middle Ages, British Empire 52

Hillegas Boer Histories

Howard Hillegas was an American who lived in South Africa during the period of the Second Boer War, and actually traveled with the Boer army as it fought for its independence against the expansionist designs of the British Empire. He was generally a sympathetic observer, but his books provide a fair portrayal of Boer life and values, which were in many ways similar to those of the "frontiersmen" of the U.S. West.

The imperial, racial and tribal politics of South Africa were very complex during this period. Although the territories of South Africa had been won by the British from the Dutch during the Napoleonic Wars, the British did not take much interest in the territory until both diamonds and gold were found in the area. At that point they made aggressive territorial movement against the Boer farmers (descendants of the Dutch settlers), who had lived independently for hundreds of years without the aid of a modern government, and desired to preserve their independence. The inevitable conflict was the most deadly and hard-fought war the British government had encountered for generations.

Boer Histories by Howard Hillegas
Title Compact Library size
Oom Paul's PeopleBritish Empire 86
With the Boer ForcesBritish Empire 93

Stories of the Gorilla Country

The reason this series of five books written for youngsters by one of the earliest American explorers of equatorial Africa is near the top of our list of favorite books has a great deal to do its utterly unique and inimitable character. It has all of the attractions of a good Tarzan style adventure story, combined with the reflective philosophy of Robinson Crusoe. It differs from both of these however, in that it is the true account of the first American explorer to live among the interior African tribes of Equatorial Africa for an extended period of time. The author traveled by himself into the interior Africa, and lived with the natives for many years, and in almost every situation, was the first white person ever encountered by the interior tribes. He was not a missionary. He was not affiliated with or sponsored by any government, University, Church, or 'Royal Society'. He was not attempting to 'develop' the country for trade. He was merely a curious adventurer, who was willing to risk his life many times over, for the opportunity to see things no white man had seen before.

Paul du Chaillu was the son of a French-American trader who owned a trading station on the coast of Gabon in central Africa, and he accompanied his father on several long-term trips to Africa. He had much of his education at the Jesuit missions in the region where he met and befriended dozens of natives, and learned several native languages. When du Chaillu was still a very young man, his father died. Instead of inheriting his successful trading business however, du Chaillu decided to become an explorer, and embarked on a three year journey into the interior jungles of central Africa. In his travels he lived with, hunted with, and befriended dozens of native Africans, learned several more languages, collected hundreds of wild-life specimens, and had innumerable adventures of such fantastic drama that many who heard his tales on his return to civilization believed that they were utterly fanciful.

After returning to America for several years, during which time he wrote an account of his adventures thus far, he prepared for an expedition across Africa starting near the Congo Basin with the intention of exploring all of central Africa by foot. (This was over fifteen years before Stanley navigated the Congo River). The trials and tribulations of his unsuccessful expedition make the fifth and final book in the series somewhat darker in character than the earlier four, but all five, taken together are delightfully riveting. Du Chaillu comes across as a sincere and curious fellow, greatly delighted by many of the sights and characters that he encounters. His approach, when writing for young people, is to explain his own reactions to difficult situations rather than to criticize other's actions, and a great many of his escapades have very humorous or ironic conclusions. One could not possibly invent a more interesting fictional hero.

Stories of the Gorilla Country by Paul du Chaillu
Title Compact Library size
Stories of the Gorilla Country British Empire, Intermediate Readers 120
Lost in the Jungle Intermediate Readers 111
Wild Life Under the Equator Intermediate Readers 90
My Apingi Kingdom Intermediate Readers 101
The Country of the Dwarfs Intermediate Readers 116

Van Bergen Asian Histories

Robert Van Bergen was one of the first American scholars to study in Japan after its opening to foreigners in the 1860ís. In addition to mastering Japanese and other oriental languages, he taught English to the Japanese and was personally known to many of the revolutionary statesmen of Japan who transformed the country from a feudal empire, with mediaeval customs to one of the most advanced technological countries in the world in only a single generation. A Boy of Old Japan is actually the life story of one of the Choshiu samurai who led the rebellion against the Tokugawa government in 1868. Although the subject himself was not personally acquainted with Van Bergen, (he died during the revolution), many of the other characters in the book were well known to the author. It is an insightful account of one of the most important periods of Japanese history.

All of Van Bergenís other books, which include comprehensive histories of China, Japan, and Russia are excellent introductions to the study of the Asian empires. They were written at the turn of the century, so they do not consider the dramatic dislocations in Russian and Asia during the 20th century, but instead provide excellent insights into indigenous eastern cultures, and the manner in which they first confronted the irrepressible forces of modernism.

Asian Histories by Robert Van Bergen
Title Compact Library size
A Boy of Old Japan British Empire, Intermediate Readers 69
The Story of Japan British Empire, Intermediate Readers 111
The Story of China British Empire, Intermediate Readers 95
The Story of Russia Intermediate Readers 111

Sweetser Historical Sketeches

Each books is this series, written for middle school aged students, is composed of about ten portraits of characters from history or literature. Most of the subjects are children. Sketches of the youth and early achievements of each character is emphasized over their accomplishments later in life, in order to appeal to young readers.

The series includes sketches from classical literature as well as history. The sketches taken from literature, including Dickens, Eliot, and Thackeray, are based on excerpts from original works, edited for young readers. Sketches taken from history also rely on original sources, modified for young readers.

Sweetser Historical Sketches by Kate Dickenson Sweetser
Title Compact Library size
Ten Boys from History Intermediate Readers  
Ten Girls from History Intermediate Readers  
Ten Boys from Dickens British Empire  
Ten Girls from Dickens unavailable  
Boys and Girls from Thackeray British Empire  
Book of Indian Braves unavailable  

Nisbet Self-Help Histories

This three part series was written by a group of scholars from Oxford University and provides a survey of English history from the time of the Norman conquest to the Victorian era. These books are intended for intermediate students who already have some knowledge of the course of English history and are interested in gaining more depth. It is an excellent transition series for serious students. The political and religious issues of the day are touched upon in only enough detail to give a clear idea of the realities of the situation without getting bogged down in political theories. In addition to covering the most important stories from history, this series introduces the student to social history, that is: the living conditions, customs, education, and beliefs of both the aristocracy and the peasantry.

The first book of the three, Normans and Plantagenets, introduces the reign of William the Conqueror, and touches upon such important subjects as the Magna Carta, the conflict between Henry II and Thomas a Becket, and the foundation of Parliament under Montfort. It also provides background to the Hundred Years War, and the War of the Roses.

The second of the books covers both the Tudor and Stuart reigns, and does a good job of introducing the intermediate student to some of the complexities of the eras, including the Reformation, the English Civil War, and the "Glorious Revolution" during which parliament deposed the Catholic King James II, and placed William III and Mary on the throne, with relatively little bloodshed.

The final book in the series, The Hanoverians, covers the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including the rise of the British empire in America and India, and the Napoleonic War. It also provides an outline of the functions of British government as it existed at the turn of the 20th century, including the roles of the monarchy, parliament, judicial system and municipal governments.

Nisbet Self-Help Histories by various authors
Title Compact Library size
Normans and Plantagenets   by Ewing, Synge unavailable  
Tudors and Stuarts   by Synge, Hist S. British Middle Ages 120
The Hanoverians   by Gaskoin British Empire 126

Romance of Empire

By the 19th century, the British Empire controlled a large percentage of the world, and had territories on every continent. The Romance of Empire Series was conceived in order to provide detailed histories of each of the major provinces of the British Empire. These histories of the British colonies are lavishly illustrated, and very well written. This series was published by T. C. and E. C. Jack, the same outfit that produced the well know Marshall series of British Histories. In contrast to Marshall series, however, the Romance of Empire series is told in greater detail and is directed at an older audience.

While Marshall covers the major history stories of the British Empire in a single volume, the Romance of dedicates an entire book to each of the five major British provinces, including India, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa. Each history begins long before the arrival of the British, and covers the earliest dealings of westerners with the indigenous people. In addition to the six books about the major colonies, the series includes two additional books. Land of the Golden Trade gives a history of colonial dealings on the West Coast of Africa, including several chapters on the slave trade. Episodes from the history of many of Britain's lesser colonies, including Gibraltar, Malta, and the West Indies are given in Outposts of Empire.

Romance of Empire by various authors
Title Compact Library size
India   by Surridge British Empire 120
South Africa   by Colvin British Empire 147
New Zealand   by Horseley unavailable  
Australia   by Lang unavailable  
Canada   by Willson unavailable  
Outposts of Empire   by Lang unavailable  
Land of the Golden Trade   by John Lang British Empire 122

The size listed indicates the number of 8Ĺ by 11 sheets of paper required to print the entire book, single-sided. This number is about half the number of pages in the original book, since approximately two "pages" of text are reproduced on every sheet.

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