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Births: Anthony Ashley Cooper, third Earl of Shaftesbury, philosopher and writer, 1671; Eaton Hodgkinson, engineer and writer, 1789; Victor-Marie Hugo, author, 1802; Alexis Hollander, pianist and conductor, 1840; Evelyn Baring, first Earl of Cromer, statesman and diplomat, 1841; William Frederick Cody ('Buffalo Bill'), showman, 1846; Leonard Borwick, pianist, 1868; Frank Bridge, conductor and composer, 1879; Margaret Leighton, actress, 1922.

Deaths: Roger II, King of Sicily, 1154; Manfred, King of Naples and Sicily, died in battle 1266; Thomas d'Urfey, satirist, 1723; Giuseppe Tartini, violinist and composer, 1770; Alexander Geddes, biblical critic and poet, 1802; John Philip Kemble, actor-manager, 1823; Aloys Senefelder, inventor of lithography, 1834; Frederick Tennyson, poet, 1898; Richard Jordan Gatling, inventor of the Gatling gun, 1903; Caran d'Ache (Emmanuel Poire), illustrator, 1909; August Wolf, painter, 1915; Anne Isabella, Lady Ritchie, author, 1919; Sir Harry Lauder (MacLennan), comedian, 1950; Sir Patrick Gardiner Hastings, lawyer and politician, 1952; Karl Jaspers, philosopher, 1969; Levi Eshkol, Israeli prime minister, 1969; Fernandel (Fernand Contandin), actor and comedian, 1971.

On this day: Manfred was defeated by a French army under Charles I of Anjou at the Battle of Benevento, 1266; 20,000 people were killed after an earthquake in Lisbon, 1531; the Bank of England issued the first one-pound note, 1797; Napoleon Buonaparte escaped from Elba, 1815; Russia annexed Poland, 1832; the Grand National steeplechase was first run, Aintree, 1839; the Second French Republic was proclaimed, 1848; the troopship Birkenhead sank off Simon's Bay, South Africa, with the loss of 485 lives, 1852; the first colour film, Kinemacolor, was shown before an audience at the Palace Theatre, London, 1909; a strike of coal-miners took place in Britain, 1912; the French transport ship Provence II was sunk in the Mediterranean, with the loss of 930 lives, 1916; Winston Churchill announced that Britain had produced its own atomic bomb, 1952; diplomatic relations between Israel and Egypt were established, 1980; the first London performance of the musical The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas was staged, 1981.

Today is the Feast Day of St Alexander of Alexandria, St Nestor of Magydus, St Porphyry of Gaza and St Victor or Vittre the Hermit.


Births: Constantine the Great, Roman emperor, 280; Edward Cave (Sylvanus Urban), printer and publisher of the Gentleman's Magazine, 1691; Ernst Gottlieb Baron, lutenist and composer, 1696; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, poet, 1807; Richard Garnett, librarian, 1835; Dame Ellen Alicia Terry, actress, 1847; Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, composer, 1848; Rudolf Steiner, social philosopher, 1861; Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, painter, 1863; Sir John Alexander Hammerton, editor and critic, 1871; Enrico Caruso, operatic tenor, 1873; Luitzen Egbertus Jan Brouwer, mathematician, 1881; Charles Herbert Best, co-discoverer of insulin as a diabetes treatment, 1899; Marino Marini, sculptor, 1901; John Ernst Steinbeck, author, 1902; James Thomas Farrell, novelist, 1904.

Deaths: John Evelyn, diarist, 1706; John Arbuthnot, satirist and creator of the character 'John Bull', 1735; Francis Marion, (the 'Swamp Fox'), revolutionary commander, 1795; Hugues-Felicite-Robert de Lamennais, church reformer, 1854; George Manson, water-colour painter, 1876; Alexander Porfirievich Borodin, composer, 1887; Samuel Pierpont Langley, astronomer and aeronaut, 1906; Adam Sedgwick, zoologist, 1913; Ivan Petrovich Pavlov, physiologist, 1936; Peter Behrens, architect, 1940; John Dickson Carr (Carter Dickson), writer of detective stories, 1976; Edward Dahlberg, author, 1977; Lillian Gish (Lillian Diana de Guiche), actress, 1993.

On this day: the first trade mission from Russia reached London, 1558; the Boers defeated the British at Majuba Hill, South Africa, 1881; the British Labour Party was founded, with Ramsay MacDonald as secretary, 1900; the Reichstag in Berlin burned following what was called a 'Communist plot' by Hitler, 1933; General Franco's government in Spain was recognised by Britain and France, 1939; Borley Rectory, England's most haunted house, burned down, 1939; the Japanese attacked Java, starting the two-day battle, 1942; the Gulf War ended after Iraqi troops retreated and Kuwait was liberated, 1991.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Alnoth, St Anne Line, St Baldomerius or Galmier, St Gabriel Possenti, St Herefrith of Louth, St John of Gorze, Saints Julian, Cronion, Besas and Eunus, St Leander of Seville and St Thalelaeus the Hermit.