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TODAY Births: Ludwig van Beethoven, composer, baptised 1770; Sir Humphry Davy, chemist and inventor, 1778; Ford Madox Ford, novelist, 1873; Erskine Preston Caldwell, novelist, 1903.

Deaths: Louis-Marie Alphonse Daudet, novelist, 1897; Baron Ferdinand James de Rothschild, banker, 1898; Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, physician, 1917; Dana Andrews, actor, 1992.

On this day: Drake's ship The Pelican (afterwards called The Golden Hind) sailed out of Plymouth on a round-the-world voyage, 1577; the first radio message was sent across the Atlantic, 1902; the Wright brothers made their first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, 1903.

Today is the Feast Day of St Begga, St Lazarus, St Olympias, St Sturmi and St Wivina.

TOMORROW Births: Joseph Grimaldi, clown, 1779; Saki (Hector Hugh Munro), short-story writer, 1870; Paul Klee, abstract painter, 1879; Betty (Elizabeth Ruth) Grable, actress, 1916.

Deaths: Antonio Stradivari, violin maker, 1737; Dorothy Leigh Sayers, detective story writer, 1957; Sam Wanamaker (Samuel Watenmaker), actor, director and producer, 1993.

On this day: under the 13th Amendment, slavery was abolished in the United States, 1865; the death penalty for murder was abolished in Britain, 1969.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Flannan, St Gatian, Saints Rufus and Zosimus, St Samthan and St Winebald.