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Births: John Dryden, poet, 1631; Orville Wright, pioneer aviator, 1871; Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel, fashion designer, 1883; Frederic Ogden Nash, humorist, 1902.

Deaths: Augustus, first Roman emperor, 14; James Watt, engineer, 1819; Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev, ballet director and choreographer, 1929; Federico Garcia Lorca, poet and playwright, 1936; Sir Henry Joseph Wood, conductor, 1944; Julius ('Groucho') Marx, comedian, 1977; Alastair Sim, actor, 1976; Sir Frederick Ashton, choreographer, 1988.

On this day: Mary, Queen of Scots returned to Scotland from France, 1561; a plebiscite held in Germany gave sole power to the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, 1934; Lt-Gen Bernard Montgomery became commander of the British Eighth Army in North Africa, 1942; Michael Ryan, a 27-year-old marksman, went on a rampage, killing 14 people and then himself, in Hungerford, Berkshire, 1987; a state of emergency was declared in the Soviet Union and troops surrounded the parliament building in Moscow, 1991.

Today is the Feast Day of Saints Agapius and Timothy, St Andrew the Tribune, St Bertulf of Bobbio, St Credan of Evesham, St John Eudes, St Louis of Anjou, St Mocha, St Sebald, St Sixtus III and St Thecla.