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Births: Sir Edward Coke, Lord Chief Justice and author, 1552; Robert Anderson, poet, 1770; Margaret Sarah Carpenter (Geddes), portrait painter, 1793; Louis-Auguste-Blanqui, socialist, 1805; Victor Herbert, composer, 1859; Dame Clara Ellen Butt, contralto singer, 1872; Hugo von Hofmannsthal, playwright and poet, 1874; John Ford (Sean Aloysius O'Fearna), film director, 1895; William Clark Gable, actor, 1901; James Langston Hughes, poet, 1902; Sidney Joseph Perelman, humorous writer, 1904.

Deaths: Rene Descartes, scientist and philosopher, 1650; Pope Alexander VIII, 1691; John Lempriere, classical scholar, 1824; Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Godwin), author of Frankenstein, 1851; George Cruikshank, caricaturist and illustrator, 1878; Sir George Gabriel Stokes, mathematician, 1903; Prince Aritomo Yamagata, military commander and prime minister of Japan, 1922; Piet Mondrian, abstract painter, 1944; Buster (Joseph Francis) Keaton, comedian, 1966.

On this day: the first meeting of the US Supreme Court took place, 1790; Mount Etna, Sicily, began violent eruptions, 1865; the first volume of the Oxford English Dictionary was published, 1884; Puccini's La Boheme was first staged, Turin 1896; the first British labour exchanges opened, 1910; the Soviet government was first recognised by Great Britain, 1924; the British Air Training Corps was founded, 1941; clothes rationing ended in Britain, 1949; the United Arab Republic was formed by a union of Egypt and Syria, 1958; the train robber Ronald Biggs, who had escaped from Wandsworth Prison, was arrested in Rio de Janeiro, but extradition was refused, 1974; over 100 deaths resulted from blizzards in the north-east of the United States, 1977; some 1,200 people were killed after an earthquake in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 1991.

Today is the Feast Day of St Bride or Brigid of Kildare, St Henry Morse, St John of the Grating, St Pionius, St Seiriol and St Sigebert III of Austrasia.