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Book Summaries

English History     Biography     Legends     Adapted Literature     Historical Fiction     European Middle Ages    

English History

          Stories from English History   by Hilda Skae
This book recounts six stories from early English history, written for grammar school students, beginning with the Celtic hero Caradoc and ending with Sir Francis Drake. Other tales include the story of Augustine of Kent and the conversion of the Saxons to Christianity, William the Conqueror and the Battle of Hastings, King John and the murder of his rival Prince Arthur, and the story of the Black Prince at Crecy and Poitiers. [39 sheets]
          Historical Reader: Vol I.   by Cambridge Press
This richly illustrated grammar school introduction to British history covers many of the most important characters and incidents of British history. It covers many of the most important and romantic incidents of English history, from the rebellion of Boadicea to the reign of Queen Victoria, in a manner that is easily accessible to elementary students. [72 sheets]
          Our Island Story   by H. E. Marshall
Marshall's storybook of English history is an undeniable classic, popular with generations of British children. It takes a romantic view of English history, combining the most well known stories from British history with legends and folklore. It begins with the legends of Albion and Brutus, and covers Roman Britain, the British middles ages, and the rise of England through the Stuart Kings. [230 sheets]
          Story of England   by Samuel B. Harding
Provides a thorough and succinct history of England from the early Britons to the end of the Victorian era. Besides just a chronological account of events, a brief explanation of some of the important industrial and social changes are discussed as well as the difficulties of administering the great Empire. [170 sheets]
          Stories from English History: I   by Alfred J. Church
This is the first of three volumes of Church's Stories from English History series. It covers 50 B.C. to 1360 A.D. and includes stories of Caesar and Boadicea, the coming of the Saxons, Alfred the Great, Canute, Harold, William the Conqueror and the Norman Conquest, Henry II and Thomas a Becket, Richard I the Crusader, the Magna Carta, Bannockburn, the battles of Crécy, Calias, Poitiers and others. [77 sheets]
          Stories from English History: II   by Alfred J. Church
This is the second volume of Church's Stories from English History series. It covers 1360 to 1647 A.D. and includes stories of Wat Tyler’s Rebellion, Agincourt, the War of the Roses, William Caxton, St. Thomas More, Queens Mary and Elizabeth, Raleigh, Drake and the Great Armada, James I, Charles I, the English Civil War, and others. [67 sheets]
          Scotland's Story   by H. E. Marshall
A child's history of Scotland, from legendary days through the time when the kingdoms of Scotland and England were joined together. Relates in vigorous prose the thrilling exploits of the heroes and heroines who defended Scotland from its English invaders. Includes the stories of Macbeth, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, Mary Queen of Scots, the poet king and the beautiful lady of the garden, the Glen of Weeping and many others. [186 sheets]
          The Story of the English   by Helene Guerber
Middle school level introduction to British history, from the age of the Celts and Druids to the Victorian Age. Many of the most romantic stories from English history are recounted in simple terms for school aged children. Includes a great many famous anecdotes and legends from English history. Stories about Arthur, Alfred, Canute, Lady Godiva, William the Conqueror, Thomas Becket, Richard Coeur d' Leon, and many others English heroes are featured. [145 sheets]
          The Tudors and Stuarts   by M. B. Synge
This book presents an excellent intermediate level history of 16th and 17th century England. The Tudor section provides details of how the reformation came about, including the closing of the monasteries and widespread religious persecutions. The Stuart section explains the rising conflict between parliament and the monarchy, the relationship between religious and political freedom, and the rise of political parties and religious toleration. [120 sheets]
          English Tales   by Charles Morris
This selection of stories from English history includes many well known episodes, but also a variety of lesser known, but romantic events. Morris is an excellent writer and his stories are told with a dramatic flair at a level of detail of interest to an older student or adult already familiar with basic English History. Although there are many familiar heroes, a good number are less well known, such as Elfrida, Hereward, Arabella Stuart, and Prince Charles. [142 sheets]


          Our Island Saints   by Amy Steedman
Stories of gentle saints who lived their lives of service in the British Isles during the Middle Ages. Includes tales of St. Alban, St. Patrick, St. Bridget, St. Cuthbert, St. Columba, St. Margaret of Scotland, and others. [75 sheets]
          The Story of Raleigh   by Margaret Duncan Kelly
Sir Walter Raleigh was one of the most famous courtiers of Queen Elizabeth. He is best known for his efforts to establish an English colonies in the New World, first in Newfoundland, then at Jamestown in Virginia. Raleigh was also a literary figure. He introduced Edmund Spenser (of Faerie Queen Fame), to Elizabeth's court, and wrote several books himself during his long imprisonment under King James I. [36 sheets]
          Through Britain With Cromwell   by H. E. Marshall
This biography of Cromwell was written with geography in mind. During the English Civil War Cromwell fought battles all over England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland so the author uses the story of his life to inspire interest in the landmarks of the British Isles. The fascinating story of Cromwell's life is not hindered, but rather enhanced by the special attention to environment, and numerous maps. [58 sheets]
          The Story of Francis Drake   by Mrs. Oliver Elton
Sir Francis Drake was one of the most colorful characters in Elizabethan England. He was a sworn enemy of the Spanish and spent many years plundering their ships and towns in the new world, both to enrich himself and to strike a blow at England's most threatening enemy. He was only the second European, after Magellan, to pass Cape Horn in South America and sail around the world, but it is his daring feats and audacious exploits against Spain for which he is best known. [37 sheets]
          The Story of Robert Bruce   by Jeanie Lang
This story of Robert Bruce, hero of Scotland, is an action packed tale of one of the greatest patriotic heroes of Scotland. Deprived of his crown by Edward I. of England, who had completely subjugated Scotland by the time he came of age, he won back Scotland's independence against terrific odds. With lots of hand-to-hand combat, treachery, and larger-than-life action, the story of Robert the Bruce is one of the greatest adventure-dramas in English history. [44 sheets]
          Great Englishmen   by M. B. Synge
Sixteen short biographies of eminent Englishmen are given. Although there are many important men of action portrayed in this volume, including Nelson, Alfred the Great, Clive, and the Black Prince, many men whose accomplishments were in the realm of culture are given also. Some of these include the Venerable Bede, Milton, Isaac Newton, William Caxton, George Stephenson, and others. [63 sheets]
          Great Englishwomen   by M. B. Synge
Sixteen short biographies of eminent, but not overly famous Englishwomen are given. Included are several queens, but also a variety of women accomplished in cultural or professional fields, including Angelica Kaufman (an artist), Mary Somerville (a scientist), and Elizabeth Fry (a prison reformer), and many others. [52 sheets]
          In the Days of Alfred the Great   by Eva March Tappan
The story of the life of Alfred the Great, is presented in a manner that is of great interest to younger students. The book places great emphasis on the childhood of Alfred, and tells how at twenty-two he inherited a land overrun by savage pirates,—a restless ignorant, defenseless land. After spending most of his youth in conflict with the invaders, the final chapters tell how he fought the Danes and restored the country to a condition of peace and safety. [91 sheets]
          In the Days of William the Conqueror   by Eva March Tappan
This story of the life of William the Conqueror, telling of his danger-filled boyhood in Normandy, is written with great flourish in a manner that is especially appealing to young boys. From his earliest years, his life was one of adventure and conquest. As a youth he was knighted by the King of France, who eventually became his worst enemy. Afterward he proved himself the greatest warrior in all of Europe and completed his victorious career with his daring conquest of England. [94 sheets]
          In the Days of Queen Elizabeth   by Eva March Tappan
This story of the life of Queen Elizabeth, the famous English sovereign who guided England through the troubled waters of the latter half of the sixteenth century, was written to appeal to grammar and middle school aged students. A good deal of attention is paid to the formative, youthful years of princess Elizabeth, and the later chapters include stories of English voyages of exploration and the defeat of the Spanish armada. [88 sheets]
          Oliver Cromwell   by Estelle Ross
This biography of Oliver Cromwell, the fierce puritan general who led the Roundheads to victory in the English Civil War and formed the Commonwealth government very ably describes the problems of the age, and Cromwell's role in permanently transforming the English monarchy. It is an excellent intermediate biography, suitable for mature middle school or high school students who would like to better understand this critical period in English history. [68 sheets]
          William the Conqueror   by Jacob Abbott
Even before invading England to claim the throne, William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, was recognized throughout Europe as the greatest warrior of his time. His entire life was a series of battles and rebellions—in which he was uniformly successful. He was often hated but always respected by his subjects, and his iron-fisted policies were more effective in taking charge of the throne of England than in managing his own family. [80 sheets]
          Margaret of Anjou   by Jacob Abbott
It is hard to understand why Margaret of Anjou, a central character of the War of the Roses, is not more well known. She was an intelligent, driven, and fearless woman who essentially ruled England for her husband, Henry VI, during his reign. This book covers the events leading up to the War of the Roses and helps to untangle the confusing threads of that confrontation. [91 sheets]
          Richard I   by Jacob Abbott
This story of Richard I begins with his fascinating parents, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Henry the II, founders of the Plantagenet line of English kings. Once Richard ascends to the throne the story moves to the Holy Land, scene of the second Crusade. When Richard arrived in Acre, he found that vastly more energy was spent in posturing and infighting among the crusaders than in actually fighting the Mohammedans, but through it all, he managed to maintain a glamorous appearance of chivalry and apparent victory. [95 sheets]
          Richard II   by Jacob Abbott
The first several chapters of Richard II recap the turbulent reigns of the previous Plantagenet kings including John Lackland and the three Edwards. Several chapters are then dedicated to the Black Prince, Richard’s father, who achieved great fame at the battles of Crecy and Poitiers. The reign of Richard II was most notable for the Wat Tyler rebellion and the fact of that he was eventually deposed. [100 sheets]
          Richard III   by Jacob Abbott
The War of the Roses did not end with the death of Henry VI and the exile of Queen Margaret. Although Edward IV eventually gained the throne, the York family’s struggles were not over. On Edward’s death, Richard III usurped the throne from Edward’s sons. The book covers the reign of Edward IV, the usurpation of Richard III, and the eventual triumph of Henry Tudor, which brought the War of the Roses to a close. [94 sheets]
          Mary Queen of Scots   by Jacob Abbott
Mary Queen of Scots was the arch-rival of Queen Elizabeth. As monarch of Scotland, she too reigned over a kingdom that was torn by struggles between Catholics and Protestants. However, while Elizabeth was able to maintain power, Mary lost her throne and ultimately became Elizabeth’s prisoner. Mary was celebrated for her beauty and gentleness, yet it was precisely her feminine appeal and unhappy marriages that caused her downfall. [77 sheets]
          Charles I   by Jacob Abbott
Charles I had the misfortune to reign during a period when Parliament, mainly representing the rising merchant class of England, had the temerity to assert its growing power. His reckless youth was spent carousing with the infamous Duke of Buckingham, and his mid-years were spent quarreling with parliament. His misdeeds were no worse than many of his predecessors, but he paid a much heavier price. After losing a civil war, he spent his last few years in captivity and was the only English king ever executed. [78 sheets]
          Charles II   by Jacob Abbott
Charles II’s youth was spent in exile in France, while his father was kept in captivity by Parliament. Though he nominally became King of England at his father’s death, he was prevented from assuming the throne until the death of Cromwell. His story covers some highlights of the Commonwealth, including his dramatic escape from Cromwell’s army and complicated power shuffling between Parliament, the army, and various Royalist factions. Some lowlights of his actual reign include the Great Plague, the Fire of London, and the Dutch invasion. [83 sheets]
          Queen Elizabeth   by Jacob Abbott
The life of Elizabeth encompassed the turbulent reigns of her brother Edward VI and sister Mary as well as her own reign of nearly 45 years. She ascended to the throne amid great controversy between Catholics and Protestants, yet she successfully navigated through these treacherous times and achieved a great deal of stability and prosperity for England. Her reign was populated with very colorful characters including Drake, Raleigh, and the Earl of Leicester. The Spanish Armada, which occurred late in her reign, was one of the most important battles in history. [74 sheets]


          Stories of Beowulf   by H. E. Marshall
This volume retells the famous Anglo-Saxon saga in the manner of a folktale, with the heroic qualities emphasized. It relates how Beowulf, the hero of the Saxons, came to Daneland and how he overcame the ogre Grendel and the waterwitch. It closes with the story of how the fire dragon warred with the Goth folk and how Beowulf fought his last fight. [29 sheets]
          Stories of Robin Hood   by H. E. Marshall
This lively retelling of the Stories of Robin Hood chronicles the events of the time in which Robin Hood lived, while the heroic Richard the Lion-hearted was absent from England and the kingdom was under the rule of his devious brother. The story recounts how and why he came to live in the Greenwood, and the adventures he had there with Little John, Maid Marian, and the Sheriff of Nottingham in a manner attractive to youngsters. [38 sheets]
          Stories of Guy of Warwick   by H. E. Marshall
This story tells of the wondrous deeds of Guy of Warwick, a gallant knight of old who falls in love with a noble lady and must prove his valor with deeds of chivalry. Most of the stories of this illustrious knights of old England are legendary, and feature monsters, giants and lions and well as villains of every stripe. [31 sheets]
          Stories from King Arthur's Knights   by Mary Macgregor
This book tell six stories from the legends of King Arthur and his knights. Most, however, involve the adventures of knights of the round table, are less well known than the stories of Arthur himself. Four of the stories are love stories between knights and their fair ladies: Geraint and Enid, Lancelot and Elaine, Pelleas and Ettarde, and Gareth and Lynette. The final two stories involve the great heroes, Sir Galahad and King Arthur. [36 sheets]
          Stories from the Ballads  by Mary Macgregor
These fairy tales from Scotland were derived from the ancient Gaelic ballads. They include stories such as Tamlane, Lizzie Lindsay, Hynde Etin, Hynde Hund, and others. [36 sheets]
          King Arthur and His Knights   by Maude Radford Warren
Twenty-one stories from the Arthurian legends specially selected and adapted for children and told in simple well-written prose. The stirring tales of these chivalrous knights awaken the reader’s admiration for courage and gentleness and high sense of honor essential in all ages. [78 sheets]
          Stories of the Border Marches   by John Lang
Marches refers to the region in Northern England near the Scottish border. It was a rugged and violent area where hundreds of battles between England and Scotland were fought over many centuries. Some of these Stories from the Border Marches are historical in nature; some are purely legendary, but all show the indomitable character of the rugged folk who dared to populate that lovely, but violent region. [128 sheets]

Adapted Literature

          Robinson Crusoe told Anew   by James Baldwin
This story of Robinson Crusoe for children was adapted to be easy to read for young children. It Relates how the shipwrecked sailor makes a new life for himself on the island, crafting shelter, food, and clothing for himself from the few tools he rescued from the ship and what he is able to find on the island. Living alone for over twenty years before he is finally rescued, he reinvents almost everything necessary for daily sustenance. Even very young children delight in this inspiring tale. [69 sheets]
          Stories from Pilgrim's Progress   by Mary Macgregor
This version of Bunyan's Classic Christian allegory is adapted for young children and is very effective as a short but entertaining morality tale. It tells the story of a Christian pilgrim on his journey along the 'straight and narrow' road. Along the route he encounters such characters as 'Obstinate', 'Pliable', 'Hopeful', and 'Goodwill', and passes the 'Slough of Despond' and 'Vanity Fair'. His is briefly imprisoned at 'Doubting Castle', the domicile of 'Giant Despair' before escaping and continuing on his journey to the 'celestial city.' [37 sheets]
          Stories from Robinson Crusoe   by John Lang
The Story of Robinson Crusoe was one of the first widely read novels in the English language, and it follows the adventures of an Englishman stranded on a remote Island in the Caribbean for almost thirty years. The original book is philosophical as well as an adventure story, but the underlying story is of utmost interest, especially to imaginative boys. This rendition is a very well done simplification suitable for grammar school age students. [37 sheets]
          Stories from the Faerie Queen   by Jeanie Lang
The Faerie Queen is one of the best known epic poems in the English language. Written during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it is allegorical in nature, but from a child's point of view is merely an exceptionally romantic collection of fairy stories—very appropriate for a simplified adaptation. Queen Elizabeth is represented by the Faerie Queen, who rules over Fairy land (England). The stories of the brave knights and beautiful maidens that inhabit Fairly land are cleverly interlinked and often told from more than one viewpoint. [42 sheets]
          Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare   by Edith Nesbit
Twenty stories from Shakespeare are retold in lively prose by a superlative storyteller. The author makes Shakespeare's greatest plays accessible to young children by relating the stories that form the core of the plays. Her graceful, vivid retellings are the perfect introduction to Shakespeare's works. The plays included in Nesbit's collection include Shakespeare's most famous comedies and tragedies but few of his historical works. [83 sheets]
          Tales from Shakespeare   by Charles Lamb
First published in 1807, these simple retellings of the plots of Shakespeare's plays have delighted generations of children, while serving as an excellent introduction to the dramas of our greatest playwright. Shakespeare's own language is used as much as possible to accustom children to the English of the Elizabethan age and so make easier their transition to the reading of the plays themselves. Numerous black and white illustrations by Louis Rhead complement the text. [176 sheets]
          The Chaucer Story Book   by Eva March Tappan
This is a charming retelling of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, complete with an introduction to the interesting characters who meet on a pilgrimage to the tomb of Thomas a Becket, and tell each other tales to pass the time. Some of the well-known tales include the story of Chanticleer the Rooster, Patient Griselda, The Story of the Summoner and the Tale of the Wife of Bath, as well as many other. [59 sheets]
          English Literature   by H. E. Marshall
A terrific and accessible introduction to English literature by one of Britain's greatest authors of Juvenile History. All of the major authors and literature of England are covered, from the Celtic ballads to the nineteenth century greats such as Dickens and Thackeray. Short examples of most of the literature is included, also with fascinating biographies. [329 sheets]

Historical Fiction

          The Scotch Twins   by Lucy Fitch Perkins
Jean and Jock Campbell are 12 year-old twins who live in the highlands of Scotland near the turn of the century. After helping out on their parents farm, cleaning the house, tending the rabbits, and observing the Sabbath, the twins befriend a new neighbor. Their adventures with their new friend involves poachers, game-keepers and the death of the Auld Laird. [57 sheets]
          Our Little Saxon Cousin from Long Ago   by Julia Darrow Cowles
This book tells the story of a Saxon boy name Turgar who lived at the during the age of Alfred the Great. He was educated at Crowland abbey and was present during its sacking by the Danes. The story tells the details of his life at the abbey and shows how the monasteries were an important part of mediaeval life. After many adventures, Turgar joins the army of Alfred the Great to help keep Britain safe from the Danish invaders. [57 sheets]
          Men of Iron   by Howard Pyle
This classic tells the story of the coming of age of a young squire, living in England at the turn of the 15th century. The action starts just a few months after the treacherous Richard II was deposed, and replaced on the throne by his cousin, Henry IV. Myles Falworth was the son of one of the counselors of Richard II, and his youth and coming of age is much influenced by the accompanying palace politics. [119 sheets]
          The Chantry Priest of Barnet   by Alfred J. Church
This story takes place during the War of the Roses, but it does not give a comprehensive overview of the war and a prior knowledge of the history of the conflict is helpful in following the plot. The story is told by a young monk who happens to be present at several of the important battles. Many details are given concerning abbey life in England shortly before the monasteries were dissolved during the English Reformation. [89 sheets]
          With the King at Oxford   by Alfred J. Church
This story follows the life of an English gentleman who enlists with the cavaliers during the English Civil War. Between battles he returns to Oxford to complete his studies, but the disruptions of the war wreak havoc on all normal vocations. In addition to learning some details about English life in the seventeenth century and the early conflict between the king and parliament, a great deal of history specific to Oxford University is also covered. [86 sheets]
          The Count of the Saxon Shore   by Alfred J. Church
The hero of this book is a Roman-British naval commander in charge of keeping pirates away from the British Isles near the turn of the fourth century. During his watch, the empire is beginning its final collapse. The legionnaires leave Britain, the provinces are left to govern themselves, and eventually he is told to abandon his post. From that point the Celtic Britons are left alone to battle the Scottish Picts and Saxon invaders by themselves. [108 sheets]

European Middle Ages

          Famous Men of the Middle Ages   by Haaren and Poland
Attractive biographical sketches of thirty-five of the most prominent characters in the history of the Middle Ages, from the barbarian invasions to the invention of the printing press. Subjects include Rollo the Viking, Henry the Fowler, Canute the Great, Peter the Hermit, Marco Polo, and many more. Each story is told in a clear, simple manner, and is well calculated to awaken and stimulate the youthful imagination. [98 sheets]
          Famous Men of Modern Times   by Haaren and Poland
Biographical sketches of thirty-three of the most famous characters from the age of the Renaissance in Europe to the late nineteenth century. Included are well-known greats such as Charles V, Solyman the Magnificent, Drake, Raleigh, Richelieu, Louis XIV, Newton, Peter the Great, Washington, Pitt, and Napoleon as well as many others. [119 sheets]
          The Story of Europe   by H. E. Marshall
This book presents the broader movements of European history, emphasizing the main factors which have gone into the development of the various European states from the fall of the Roman Empire to the Reformation. The history of England is included only when that country plays a prominent part in the politics of Europe. A full treatment of the period immediately following the fall of the Roman Empire is given, since that period provides the necessary key to future developments. Maps, timelines, and genealogy charts of the various royal houses of Europe contribute to making this book an excellent resource for the study of the Middle Ages in Europe. [108 Sheets]
          The Discovery of New Worlds   by M. B. Synge
Book II of the Story of the World series covers the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the conversion of the Germanic tribes of Europe to Christianity, the rise of Islam in the east, the European Middle Ages, the Crusades, and finally the age of exploration. The book concludes with the discoveries of Columbus and the Spanish settlements in the New World. [85 sheets]
          The Awakening of Europe   by M. B. Synge
Book III of the Story of the World series covers the reformation in Germany, the Netherlands, France, and England, as well as the settlement of colonies in America. Special attention is given to the rise of England and the Netherlands as sea powers, and the corresponding fall of Spain. The rise of Russia, Prussia, and Austria in the 17th and 18th centuries is also presented. [90 sheets]
          Brave Men and Brave Deeds   by M. B. Synge
This book is a collection of particularly interesting vignettes from European history. Each of the seventeen stories is told in enough detail to be of great interests, and a variety of the most important incidents of European History or covered. Among them include the fall of Granada in Spain, the siege of Leyden during the Netherlands' War of Independence, the relief of Vienna by Sobieski, the flight of the monarchs during the French revolution, the defense of Missolonghi during the Greek war of Independence, and Garibaldi's Sicilian Campaign. [107 sheets]

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