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Births: Frans van Mieris the Elder, painter, 1635; Sir Hans Sloane, physician and naturalist, 1660; Charles Montagu, first Earl of Halifax, politician, poet and founder of the Bank of England, 1661; John Hadley, mathematician and inventor of the first reflecting telescope, 1682; Joseph Black, chemist, 1728; Marie-Anne Elisabeth Vigee-Lebrun, painter, 1755; Albrecht Adam, painter, 1786; Sir John Franklin, Arctic explorer, 1786; William Chambers, author and publisher, 1800; Ford Madox Brown, painter, 1821; Anatole France (Jacques-Anatole Francois Thibault), novelist, 1844; Wilbur Wright, aviation pioneer, 1867; John Millington Synge, poet and playwright, 1871; Ronald Barnes Gorell, third Baron, author, 1884; Georg Curtius, philologist, 1885; Sir Charles Spencer Chaplin, comedian, 1889.

Deaths: Marcus Salvius Otho, Roman emperor, committed suicide AD 69; Filippo Brunelleschi, architect, 1446; Aphra Behn, playwright and novelist, the first woman professional writer, 1689; Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon, naturalist, 1788; Francisco Jose de Goya y Lucientes, painter, 1828; Marie (Gresholtz) Tussaud, waxworks show proprietor, 1850; Alexis Charles Henri Maurice Clerel de Tocqueville, politician and writer, 1859; Bernadette Soubirous, St Bernadette of Lourdes, 1879; John Barnett (Beer), composer, 1890; Samuel Smiles, writer and social reformer, 1904; Albert Alick (Al) Bowlly, singer, 1941; Josiah Charles Stamp, first Baron, statistician and administrator, 1941; Edna Ferber, author, 1968.

On this day: Martin Luther arrived at the Diet of Worms, 1521; Charles Edward Stuart, the Young Pretender, was decisively defeated at Culloden by Cumberland, 1746; Karakozov attempted to assassinate Tsar Alexander II of Russia, 1866; Paul Kruger became president of the South African Republic, 1883; the English Channel was flown by a woman, Harriet Quimby, 1912; the island of Malta was awarded the George Cross by King George VI, 1942; a fire in the US ship Grandcamp, lying in Galveston Bay, Texas City, Texas, set off toxic fumes and explosions, killing 512 and causing injury to thousands, 1947; the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (EEC) was set up, 1948; the submarine Affray sank in the English Channel, with the loss of 75 lives, 1951.

Today is the Feast Day of St Bernadette, St Contardo, St Drogo or Druon, St Encratis, St Fructuosus Braga, St Joseph Benedict Labre, St Magnus of Orkney, St Optatus and the Martyrs of Saragossa, St Paternus or Pair of Avranches and St Turibius of Astorga.


Births: John Ford, playwright, 1586; Henry Vaughan, poet, 1622; Johann Gottlieb Naumann, composer, 1741; James Thom, self-taught sculptor, 1802; Vicat Cole, painter, 1833; Konstantinos Petrou Kavafis (Constantine Cavafy), poet, 1863; Ian Hay (John Hay Beith), novelist, 1876; Sir (Charles) Leonard Woolley, archaeologist, 1880; Dame Margaret Teyte (Maggie Tate), soprano, 1888; Nikita Sergeyevich Khruschchev, statesman, 1894; Thornton Niven Wilder, novelist and playwright, 1897.

Deaths: Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor, 1711; Benjamin Franklin, author, diplomat and scientist, 1790; William Henry Ireland, forger of Shakespearean manuscripts, 1835; Theodore Komisarjevsky, theatre director, 1954; Scott Brady (Gerald Tierney), actor, 1985.

On this day: at Dordrecht (Dort), Holland, the sea broke through the dykes, and over 100,000 people were drowned, 1421; Martin Luther was excommunicated by the Diet of Worms, 1521; the Republic of Guatemala was founded, 1839; Yugoslavia surrendered to the Germans, 1940; Premium Savings Bonds were introduced in Britain, 1956; the attempted invasion of Cuba took place at the Bay of Pigs, 1961; in Czechoslovakia, Alexander Dubcek was replaced by Dr Gustav Husak as first secretary of the Communist Party, 1969; in Cambodia, the civil war ended after the capital, Phnom Penh, surrendered to the Khmer Rouge forces, 1975.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Aybert, St Donnan and Others, St Innocent of Tortona, St Mappalicus and Others, St Robert of Chaise-Dieu and St Stephen Harding.