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Our Island Story

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  1,090 ratings  ·  65 reviews
A child's history of England from earliest legendary times delightfully retold. Beginning with the stories of Albion and Brutus, it relates all the interesting legends and hero tales in which the history of England abounds through the end of the reign of Queen Victoria. Suitable for children ages 9 and up to read to themselves and for children as young as 6 as a read-aloud ...more
Paperback, 676 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Yesterday's Classics (first published 1905)
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4.14  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,090 ratings  ·  65 reviews

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Sarah Bringhurst
Our Island Story (H.E. Marshall) is Ambleside’s history spine for the early years. It is a history of Britain for young readers, and an absolute treasure of a book from a Charlotte Mason standpoint, meaning that Axa gives incredible narrations (i.e. nearly verbatim) of the stories after just a single hearing. My most moving experience this term was hearing her narrate the story of Boadicea, the warrior queen. Her rendition was sensitive, precise, and beautiful. Obviously, she was highly affected ...more
Leah Beecher
Have not technically finished this book since we are using it as a reading textbook in our study of British History that will take most of the school year. I thought it deserved a write up, regardless, owing that we have enjoyed it so much only a month into the school year. This book is an amazing tool for home schoolers, educators, or any person desiring to educate themselves on British History. Written by a mother for her own children a little before the turn of last century, it is exactly wha ...more
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
I expected this book - bought by my mother via a Daily Telegraph offer for her grandchildren, who have never read it - to be ghastly and unreadable, but needing to brush up a bit (a LOT) on my Kings and Queens for the sake of the Quiz League I thought I'd give it a quick whiz through. It IS ghastly in many ways - history merely as a succession of feuding nobles - but it was surprisingly readable, and what really surprised me was the frankness of it - I expected to read about one or two 'bad king ...more
May 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jan by: My mother.
I actually have what I think is a first edition, inscribed to my mother by her great-uncle, my great-great-uncle Wolf (anglicized in the signature to "Wolfe") Romm. Wolfe was born in Latvia and came here as a young teenager. He and his brother Karl ("Charlie") were active in forming the printers' union in New York. They were reportedly quite short in stature and never married. Wolfe was a bibliomaniac, not only collecting rare books but occasionally stealing them from libraries. When he gave thi ...more
Iain Hamill
Feb 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
So it might be a children's book but I thoroughly enjoyed this narrative overview of British history.

One I'm looking forward to reading to the next generation as a bedtime story!

Tennyson's 'Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington' is quoted in respect of Wolfe and the taking of Quebec but it sums up the central themes of the book.

Not once or twice in our fair island-story,
The path of duty was the way to glory:
He, that ever following her commands,
On with toil of heart and knees and hands,
We have been watching the 1960 "Shakespeare's An Age of Kings" series. To help keep the kings straight in the plays, I got out this book that we'd used as one of our homeschool history books. Despite the fact that it was first published in 1905 (or perhaps because it was written then), it is an excellent resource for adults as well as "boys and girls". Presented chronologically, each historical event and king or queen is presented with basic facts and associated myths. At some point I may even u ...more
Somehow the author manages to tell about the English succession of monarchs, wars, beheadings and wicked rulers in a remarkably cheerful, storytelling tone. It's quite an achievement really for a children's author, as I've never seen such a list of tragedy in any book of history. For some strange reason I actually enjoyed it, and even fell asleep occasionally while listening to the Librivox audiobook. But I did start to feel the weight of all that wickedness towards the end of the book, particul ...more
Nov 30, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Nasty little book dating from the times when belief in British superiority was widespread among the British. It gets two stars rather than one because I did actually learn a few things, such as who Hengist and Horsa were, the various invasions, the story of St. Alban, and a few of the various royal families who ruled.
This book is our history spine for several years. We've enjoyed this book. To help make it more real, we've been able to look up pictures such as seeing the remaining sections of Hadrin's Wall or statues like that of Queen Bodecia. It has dates next to the chapter titles. The chapters are short but exciting and a few black and white pictures/drawings throughout.
Jan 14, 2009 rated it liked it
A good overall history of Britain from the beginning of recorded history until the beginning of the 20th century. We also read Our Empire Story, which was about the British colonies. This provided a good view of Imperialism as well as an understanding of the basis for most of 20th century politics.
A lovely, read aloud, big-picture, history of England that has aged rather well. There are some passages where I notice the Eurocentric nature of Ms. Marshall's world, and others where our knowledge of what has happened since her times colors her account in rather different strokes. Nonetheless, we enjoy this book immensely and highly recommend it as a general history of the United Kingdom.
Sarah Adamson
Jul 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-s, novel
A fantastic book similar to the writing of Enid Blyton or Roger Lancelyn Green. This book tells the almost complete history of the United Kingdom as if fairy tales for children. Love the way she throws in something that is part of a myth or story without proof and says some people don't believe in this part of the story but I like it! Great way to educate kids in a fun storytelling way.
Paul Black
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
A wonderful series of stories of Briton from its mythic beginning to the current Queen, Elizabeth. Each story is a few pages and are well told. The stories are an even mix of folklore, fact, and fiction. It primarily covers the kings (and queens) and their victories and defeats in battles. But there are tales of love, treachery, invasions, heroism, and adventure. I got a bit lost somewhere between the Tudor and Stuart kings. The list of kings from Edward the Confessor (pages 571 & 572) helpe ...more
First published in 1905 and it reads like it, but for all its faults, this is a lovely book - Wildly inaccurate inplaces and yet somehow compelling. It reminds me of the glorious Children's Treasure House books ( a compilation of 'comics' that were collected by readers and then sent off to be bound together I believe - though I may be mistaken)

This book, like the Treasure House books, gives an insight - however flawed - not only into the past, but the way we thought about the past.

I can't real
Oct 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
2017: read chapters 1-21. Pre-reading for AO year 1

I love learning history from stories! History is stories, and I think anyone who hates history hasn't realized that it's about real people with real lives. This is especially interesting because I've never been exposed to most of early British history, from this portion (1-21) I think I was previously only familiar with Arthur and those surrounding him. I'm looking forward to reading the rest.

I "narrated" this book into a notebook to save for l
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I wanted to get a basic understanding of England's history so I could continue learning about it and I felt like this book provided that! It is defiantly geared towards children and had some flaws. I did not like how a lot of people were portrayed as wicked or really good ( I feel like in real life people are not black or white). It gave me a basic understanding of England for which I am grateful.
Leah Hanley
Apr 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Mostly boring, but also a good overview of British history. I read that this book is used as a primer in the UK, and that alone will give you a good idea of what to expect. It’s a strange combination of fact and fiction, and overall thick with British patriotism. Each chapter tells history in a storytelling fashion so that it reads kind of like oral history.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
We love all those stories, Marshall is great at capturing what is important and writes beautifully.

now to find if she wrote about French history in the same manner
allana bush
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Its awesome

THIS IS THE BEST BOOK EVER IT IS SO AWESOME I Love this book Thank You for writing this book
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
We listened to this audiobook. At over 11 hours of listening time, this has been marvelous fun for my history obsessed boys.
A concise, chronological guide to the history of Britain. This book was written for children in the early 1900s; the format is similar to fiction: a long story about people from another age. But lest one think the book is outdated or too difficult for children to understand, Island Story is a great book for "modern" children of all ages. My favorite part about this book is how it's written seamlessly and in a flowing manner.
Unlike most history books (even those written for the kiddos), the tale
Thom Swennes
Feb 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Our Island Story by H.E. Marshall is a comprehensive, bird’s eye view of English history. Written in 1905 it starts with legends of the Islands beginnings, through a chain of kings and wars. The sheer mass of these monarchs and conflicts leave any reader reeling but this book was written especially for grade school children. The language is simple but as an adult I couldn’t help sensing a strong condescending tone. It is both a tedious and fresh work. It is divided into two volumes. The first vo ...more
Dec 03, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english-history
I picked up this book thinking it would be like Robert Lacey's Great Tales from English History (which you should definitely read). And it is...and it isn't.

First off, the book is over a century old. It doesn't seem like it while reading, but there are some historical facts that have been brought into question since then, so be aware.

Secondly, it was written for kids--which, seriously, I should have known.

As a kid-book, it's amazing. I can't think of any child who read this or had this read to t
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My 1906 edition is called "An Island Story", but I assume it's the same book:
Ebook edition here: []

Excellent book about the history of Britain and its kings - the stories are written clearly, concisely and it explains difficult concepts and words (like "Pro-testant") in an easy to understand way. The history becomes a big adventure story. I found it hard to put down. Can't wait to read this to my kids when they get a bit older.

A little sample - about Henr
Jun 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
We've read the first 20 or so chapters. Criminy, how many chapters are there?

The author mixes legend with fact but she usually identifies which is which. It is well written if a bit old-fashioned. My 2nd graders and 4-yr-old can handle a chapter a day without too much wiggling. I'm pleased with how much they're retaining.

There's a lot of killing and breaking of promises and bad people, but it's handled well so we're not traumatized. And it's offered us many opportunities to discuss right and wro
Cassandra Kay Silva
Jul 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This was a free download on librovox and so I gave it a shot. It is written as a children's story for the Island of Great Britain. Going through all of the wars and kings, and queens until the original publish date. The book also recounts some of the lore and verses from England. I didn't know much about British history and found this very insightful. This history was a bit too "England is the best" for it's own good though. I think it was more than a little biased about many of the going on's i ...more
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any one who loves to learn
Our Island Story is one of the best books on British history, involving, England, Scotland, Ireland, The Roman Empire, France, Ireland. It is told in an amazing way. Using fact but also fiction. Because it was written before the first and second world wars it has not got those extremely important parts of Britains History in it. I would also have liked it if I t had included more on the Australian colony (but that is just cause I'm australian ☺)
The conclusion is...the content was great and it i
Apr 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Our Island Story, is all about britains past. it makes a possibly boring topic quite exciting, even though it is all true, it feels and flows like a story. It covers most of the topics that can be linked with britain. the book itself is a very good read for anyone who wants to learn about britains past, or someone at school who is learning about a particular topic as it is all condensed into single chapters, which feel just the right legnth for the book. an excellant read overall.
Oct 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-aloud
An excellent overview for children of British history through Queen Victoria. We've been reading it off and on during history lessons for nearly two years. It was published in the early 1900s so is dated at times, but it does a good job of pointing out the mistakes as well as the triumphs of each monarch.
Jun 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
A good overview of British history for young children because it is written in a narrative style. This seems to make it more interesting and the goal for me is to ignite an interest in history for my children. Too many dry history books out there. If we want our children to be excited about history, this type of book is a good way to start.
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Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall (usually credited as H.E. Marshall) was a Scottish author, particularly well known for her works of popular national history for children.

H.E. Marshall is famous for her 1905 children's history of England, Our Island Story: A History of England for Boys and Girls, illustrated by A. S. Forrest. In the USA the book was entitled An Island Story. The book was a bestseller,
“Do you still tell me that I have power over the waves? Oh! foolish men, do you not know that to God alone belongs such power? He alone rules earth and sky and sea, and we and they alike are His subjects, and must obey Him." The” 1 likes
“I am as nobly born as you," he said proudly to Claudius. "I had men and horses, lands and great riches. Was it wonderful that I wished to keep them? You fight to gain possession of the whole world and make all men your slaves, but I fought for my own land and for freedom. Kill me now and people will think little of you: but if you grant me my life, all men will know that you are not only powerful but merciful." Instead” 1 likes
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