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Births: William Shakespeare, playwright and poet, 1564; Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp, naval commander, 1598; Samuel Wallis, navigator and discoverer of Wallis island, 1728; Joseph Mallord William Turner, painter, 1775; James Buchanan, 15th US President, 1791; Thomas Wright, historian and antiquary, 1810; Louis- Antoine Julien (Jullien), conductor, 1812; James Anthony Froude, historian, 1818; Pierre Dupont, songwriter, 1821; Max Ludwig Planck, physicist, 1858; Dame Ethel Mary Smyth, composer, 1858; Edmund Henry Hynman, first Viscount Allenby of Megiddo, field marshal, 1861; Frank Borzage, film director, 1893; Margaret Kennedy, novelist, 1896; Lester Bowles Pearson, statesman, 1897; Dame Edith Ngaio Marsh, novelist, 1899.

Deaths: William Shakespeare, playwright and poet, 1616; Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author, 1616; Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, 1625; Henry Vaughan, poet, 1695; Thomas Tickell, poet, 1740; Christian Wilhelm Ernst Dietrich, painter, 1774; Joseph Nollekens, sculptor, 1823; Erik Gustaf Geijer, poet and historian, 1847; William Wordsworth, poet, 1850; Auguste Laurent, chemist, 1853; Friedrich Preller, landscape painter, 1878; Maria Taglioni, (Countess de Voisins) ballerina, 1884; Karl Friedrich Wilhelm Ludwig, physiologist, 1895; Rupert Chawner Brooke, poet, 1915; Joseph Pennell, artist and author, 1926; Lt- Cdr Percy Thomson Dean VC, killed at Zeebrugge 1918; Elisabeth Schumann, singer, 1952; Larry 'Buster' Crabbe (Clarence Lindon Crabbe), swimmer and actor, 1983; Kent Smith, actor, 1985; Harold Arlen (Hyman Arluck), composer, 1986; Otto Preminger, director, 1986; Arthur Michael, Lord Ramsey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, 1988.

On this day: King Brian Boru of Ireland beat back the Danes at the Battle of Clontarf, 1014; the Order of the Garter was founded by King Edward III, 1349; Connecticut was chartered as an English colony, 1662; Warren Hastings was acquitted of high treason, 1795; Missolonghi was captured by the Turks, 1826; plans for a Channel Tunnel were turned down by Queen Victoria and Emperor Napoleon III of France, 1867; Gilbert and Sullivan's opera Patience was first produced, London 1881; the Battle of Zeebrugge ended, 1918; the British Empire Exhibition was opened at Wembley, 1924; the first London performance of the operetta Frasquita was staged, 1925; the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre was opened at Stratford-on-Avon, 1932; the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia demanded complete self-government, 1938; Allied forces in Italy reached the river Po, 1945; the oil pipeline from Kirkuk to Banias was completed, 1952; the first performance of the musical show Expresso Bongo was presented, London, 1958; the first heliport in Britain was opened in London on Thames-side, 1959; the first decimal coins were issued in Britain (5p and 10p), but were used as one-shilling and two-shilling pieces until decimalisation, 1968; the republics of the Soviet Union were granted the right to secede under certain conditions, 1991.

Today is St George's Day and the Feast Day of St Adalbert of Prague, Saints Felix, Fortunatus and Achilleus, St Gerard of Toul and St Ibar.


Births: William the Silent, Prince of Orange, 1533; Giambattista Martini, historian of music, 1706; Johann Philipp Kirnberger, composer, 1721; Edmund Cartwright, inventor of the power loom, 1743; Anthony Trollope, writer, 1815; Jules Egghard (Count Hardegg), pianist, 1834; Marcus Andrew Hislop Clarke, author, 1846; Henri-Philippe Petain, soldier and leader, 1856; Arthur Christopher Benson, scholar and author, 1862; Air Chief Marshal Hugh Caswall Tremenheere Dowding, first Baron Dowding, 1882; Sir Richard Stafford Cripps, lawyer, diplomat and statesman, 1889; Helmuth Karl Bernhard, Graf von Moltke, general, 1891; Benjamin Whorf, linguist and anthropologist, 1897; William Joyce ('Lord Haw-Haw'), collaborator with the Nazis, 1906.

Deaths: Jacopo Sannazaro, poet, 1530; Daniel Defoe, author, 1731; Louisa Stuart Costello, artist and poet, 1870; Maria Faglioni, ballerina, 1884; Justin M'Carthy, politician, historian and novelist, 1912; George de Forest Brush, painter, 1941; Willa Cather, novelist, 1947; Manuel Ponce, composer, 1948; Gerhard Domagk, bacteriologist, 1964; Bill (William John) Edrich, cricketer, 1986; the Duchess of Windsor (Wallis Warfield), 1986.

On this day: the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V defeated the Protestants at Muhlberg, 1547; Mary, Queen of Scots, aged 16, married the Dauphin of France, 1558; in America, the Boston News-Letter was first issued, 1704; the words and music of the 'Marseillaise' were composed by Rouget de Lisle, 1792; the Library of Congress, Washington, was established, 1800; the Alhambra Theatre, London, reopened as the Royal Alhambra Palace of Varieties, 1871; the Garrick Theatre, London, opened, 1889; Joshua Slocum set sail from Boston, Massachusetts, on the first solo round-the-world voyage, 1895; Spain declared war on the United States, 1898; the first issue of the Daily Express appeared, 1900; the Republican insurrection in Ireland known as the Easter Rising occurred on Easter Monday, 1916; in the German general election, Nazis won many seats in large cities, 1932; the first Bandoeng Conference ended, 1955; the first performance of the musical Man of La Mancha was presented, London, 1968; the Gambia was proclaimed a republic, 1970.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Egbert, St Fidelis of Sigmaringen, St Ives or Ivo, St Mary Euphrasia Pelletier, St Mellitus of Canterbury and St William Firmatus.