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The Independent Culture

Births: Gerhardus Mercator (Gerhard Kremer), cartographer, 1512; Sir Austen Henry Layard, archaeologist, 1817; Sir Charles Wyville Thomson, zoologist, 1830; Howard Pyle, artist, illustrator and writer, 1853; Sir Henry Hughes Wilson, field marshal, 1864; Benjamin Franklin (Frank) Norris, novelist, 1870; Rosa Luxemburg, Spartacist (socialist) agitator, 1871; William Henry, first Baron Beveridge, of the Beveridge Report on social insurance, 1879; Herbert Farjeon, critic and playwright, 1887; Sir Rex Carey Harrison, actor, 1908.

Deaths: Antonio Allegri da Correggio, painter, 1534; Thomas Augustine Arne, composer ("Rule, Britannia") 1778; Flora Macdonald, Jacobite heroine, 1790; Franz Anton Mesmer, physician and founder of "animal magnetism", 1815; David Scott, historical painter, 1849; Sir Henry Creswicke Rawlinson, soldier and Orientalist, 1895; Felice Carlo Emmanuele Cavalotti, anti- monarchist journalist, killed in a duel 1898; Alfredo Casella, composer, 1947; Edward Lee Masters, novelist and poet, 1950; Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev, composer, 1953; Joseph Stalin (Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili), Russian leader, 1953; William Cameron Menzies, film director, 1957; Anna Akhmatova (Anna Andreyevna Gorenko), poet, 1966; Mohammad Mosaddeq, politician, 1967; E.Y. "Yip" Harburg (Isidore Hochberg), composer, killed in a car crash, 1981; Tito Gobbi, baritone, 1984; William Powell, actor, 1984.

On this day: the foundation stone of New College, Oxford, was laid, 1397; soldiers fought civilians at Boston, Massachusetts, in the Boston Massacre, 1770; Covent Garden Theatre, London, was destroyed by fire, 1856; civil disobedience in India ended, 1931; the Nazis made large gains in the German general election, 1933; the Battle of the Bismarck Sea ended, 1943; Winston Churchill made a speech at Fulton, Missouri, referring to an "Iron Curtain" across Europe, 1946.

Today is the Feast Day of Saints Adrian and Eubulus, St Eusebius of Cremona, St Gerasimus, St John Joseph of the Cross, St Kieran of Saighir, St Phocas of Antioch, St Piran and St Virgil of Arles.