This was the week that was

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Today On this day in 1769 the Royal Academy held its first exhibition; Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough were among artists who participated in the new-fangled concept of allowing the plebs in to gawp at one's work.

Tomorrow In 1749 the blue touchpaper was lit for Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks but, in a case of life imitating art strongly, the performance was suspended due to a fire. Walter Lantz, the animator who gave us Woody Woodpecker, was himself hatched in 1900.

Wednesday If it's any consolation to Captain Bligh, booted off the Bounty into a tiny sailing boat in 1789, he was to inspire a couple of films: shame about Marlon Brando's "English" accent, though, as Fletcher Christian in the 1962 Mutiny on the Bounty (above).

Thursday And, if it's also any consolation to Casey Jones, the engineer on the Chicago-New Orleans Cannonball Express killed in a crash with a freight train in 1900, his name lives on in the folk ballad (in the key of C) by T Lawrence Seibert.

Friday AE Housman's death in 1936 takes place in the opening scenes of Tom Stoppard's soporific play The Invention of Love; he was a great deal more interesting in his poetry (A Shropshire Lad) than in his pedantry (Latin textual emendations).

Saturday The earliest violins recorded in Britain date back to 1545, when two violinists were put on the payroll of Henry VIII's court. More musical history was made in 1768, this time in Dublin, when Henry Walsh played the first piano solo in public.

Sunday Witchhunting American senator, Joe McCarthy, died in 1957. The only good thing to be said about him was that he unwittingly inspired a satirical play entitled, The Investigator in which he gets to Heaven (this is fiction) and starts sniffing out celestial Commies.