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The Independent Culture
TODAY: Births: Luigi Pulci, poet, 1432; Jeremy Taylor, theologian, baptised 1613; Napoleon Bonaparte, French Emperor, 1769; Sir Walter Scott, novelist, 1771; Thomas De Quincey, essayist and critic, 1785; Sir Henry James Sumner Maine, lawyer and historian, 1822; Walter Crane, painter and illustrator, 1845; Walter Page Hines, editor and ambassador, 1855; James Keir Hardie, Labour Party veteran, 1856; Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, composer, 1875; Ethel Barrymore (Ethel Mae Blythe), actress, 1879; Sir Peter Henry Buck (Te Rangi Hiroa), Maori anthropologist and politician, 1880; Edna Ferber, novelist and playwright, 1887; Thomas Edward Lawrence, soldier and writer, 1888; Jacques-Francois-Antoine Ibert, composer, 1890; Robert Oxton Bolt, playwright and screenwriter, 1924.

Deaths: Macbeth, King of Scotland, killed in battle 1057; Philippa of Hainault, Queen of Edward III, 1369; William John Thoms, founder and editor of Notes and Queries, 1885; William Penn ("Will") Rogers, humorist, killed in an air crash 1935; Rene-Francois-Ghislain Magritte, Surrealist painter, 1967.

On this day: nearly 500 French ships were destroyed by the Duke of Bedford at Harfleur, 1416; the Panama Canal was opened officially, 1914; India became independent, 1947; Pakistan, having separated from India, became independent, 1947; the republic of (South) Korea was proclaimed, 1948; the French Congo became independent, 1960; Bahrain became independent, 1971.

Today is the anniversary of VJ Day, 1945, and the Feast Day of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, St Arnulph of Soissons and St Tarsicius.

TOMORROW: Births: Jean de La Bruyere, essayist and moralist, 1645; Catharine Cockburn, playwright and philosopher, 1679; Johan Siegwald Dahl, painter, 1827; Jules Laforgue, poet and critic, 1860; Georgette Heyer, novelist, 1902; Wendell Meredith Stanley, biochemist, 1904.

Deaths: Andrew Marvell, poet, 1678; Matthew Tindal, writer, 1733; Ramakrishna (Gadadhur Chatterji), Hindu mystic, 1886; Robert Wilhelm Bunsen, chemist and inventor, 1899; George Herman "Babe" Ruth, baseball player, 1948; Margaret Munnerlyn Mitchell, novelist, author of Gone With the Wind, 1949; Louis Jouvet, actor and director, 1951; Bela Lugosi (Bela Blasko), actor, 1956; Elvis Aaron Presley, singer, 1977; Stewart Granger, (James Lablanche Stewart), actor, 1993.

On this day: Henry VIII and his army defeated the French at Guinegatte in the Battle of the Spurs, 1513; during Napoleon's invasion of Russia, the Battle of Smolensk began, 1812; the Peterloo Massacre took place at St Peter's Field, Manchester, 1819; the trial of Queen Caroline, for adultery, began, 1820; the Republic of Bolivia was proclaimed, 1825; Wagner's opera Siegfried was first performed, Bayreuth, 1876; the Tate Gallery, London, was opened, 1897; following heavy thunderstorms, flooding brought devastation to Lynton, Devonshire, 1952; Cyprus became an independent republic, 1960; Britain applied for membership of the EEC, 1961; after taking control of most of Northern Cyprus, Turkish forces called a ceasefire, 1974.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Armel, St Arsacius and St Stephen of Hungary.