The Copy Book

Readings in history, society and literature

The Copy Book

Readings in history, society and literature
Lit. & Phil. Library, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Photo by Michael D. Beckwith. Public domain image.
Clay Lane
The Copy Book Inspired by the anthologies of NL Clay

Passages for reading. Read them out aloud. Paraphrase or précis them. Discuss them with friends. Does anything surprise or impress you? How does the author work your feelings? Would you use his words? How would you direct the scene in a movie — and who would your stars be?

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Extracts from Fiction

Robinson Crusoe Goes to Sea

Hours after running away to sea, Robinson Crusoe was sorry he ever left home.

Foreign Views of England

A Day in Georgian London

A foreign tourist writes home with an account of a day in the life of a typical London gentleman.

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Indian History

Zenana Mission

Hannah Mullens describes her battle to reach out to wealthy Indian ladies with nothing to do, nothing to think about and nowhere to go.

Bible Stories Retold

The History of Susannah

A young Jewish woman in ancient Babylon falls victim to a heartless conspiracy.

Classical History

The Last Gladiator

The people of Rome suddenly turned their back on centuries of ‘sport’ - all because of one harmless old man.

Kings and Queens of England

Alfred to Ethelred

A brief introduction to England’s rulers, beginning with the only one named ‘the Great’.

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Selected Authors

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The Firstborn Liberty

The Lessons of Empire

The Charge of the Light Brigade



‘One of That Sort, Are You?’

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Selected Topics

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Stories about our friends across the Channel, from Roman times to the Hundred Years’ War, her bloody Revolution, and the giddying rise and fall of Emperor Napoleon.

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International Relations

Britain has always demanded respect, open seas, and to be left in peace to ‘work out our own salvation’ — a courtesy we should extend to others.

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Discovery and Invention

Tales of scientific innovation and merchant enterprise, from steam power and life-saving medicines to new trade partners far away, and new ways to reach them.

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Tales about the cradle of Western civilisation, from Socrates and the first democracies to the fall of the Roman Empire, the Ottoman yoke, and Britain’s part in the fight for independence.

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Music and Musicians

The artistic struggles and triumphs of composers from the British Isles and abroad, many in their own words — and accompanied by their music.

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Myths and Legends

Stories of wisdom, wonder and imagination from the Fables of Aesop and the epics of Homer to the folklore of India, Japan, Russia and Britain.

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