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Births: William Edward Hartpole Lecky, historian, 1838; George Smith, Assyriologist, 1840; Harry Furniss, caricaturist and illustrator, 1854; Alfred Edward Housman, poet, 1859; Robert Lee Frost, poet, 1874; 'Chico' Leonard Marx, comedian, 1887; Tennessee Williams (Thomas Lanier Williams), playwright, 1911.

Deaths: Sir John Vanbrugh, playwright and architect, 1726; Ludwig van Beethoven, composer, 1827; Walt Whitman, poet and essayist, 1892; Cecil John Rhodes, financier and statesman, 1902; Sarah Bernhardt (Rosine Bernard), actress, 1923; David Lloyd George, first Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, statesman, 1945; Raymond Thornton Chandler, novelist and scriptwriter, 1959; Sir Noel Peirce Coward, 1973; Anthony Frederick Blunt, art historian and spy, 1983.

On this day: the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, (second theatre) opened, 1674; the first cremation in England took place, Woking 1886; the Gaumont-British Film Corporation was founded, 1927; driving tests were introduced in Britain, 1934; women were allowed on the floor of the London Stock Exchange for the first time, 1973.

Today is the Feast Day of St Basil the Younger, St Braulio, St Castulus of Rome, St Felix of Trier, St Ludger and St Macartan.


Births: Louis XVII, King of France, 1785; Alfred Victor, Comte de Vigny, poet, 1797; Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann, replanner of Paris, 1809; Charles Mackay, poet and journalist, 1814; Sir William Quiller Orchardson, painter, 1835; Paul-Marie-Theodore- Vincent d'Indy, composer, 1851; Sir Frederick Henry Royce, motor-car designer, 1863; James Cruze, film director, 1884; Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, architect, 1886; Karl Mannheim, sociologist, 1893; Dragoljub (Draza) Mihajlovic', Serbian nationalist, 1893; Gloria May Josephine Swanson, actress, 1899.

Deaths: Pope Gregory XI, 1378; Marguerite de Valois, Queen of Navarre, 1615; James VI of Scotland / James I of Great Britain, 1625; Gianbattista Tiepolo, painter, 1770; Sir George Gilbert Scott, architect, 1878; Myles Birket Foster, painter, 1899; Henry Brooks Adams, historian, 1918; Sir James Dewar, physicist and inventor of the vacuum flask, 1923; Enoch Arnold Bennett, novelist, 1931; Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, cosmonaut, killed in an aircraft accident 1968.

On this day: Oliver Goldsmith's The Vicar of Wakefield was published, 1766; universal suffrage was introduced in Spain, 1890; severe earthquakes and tidal waves were experienced on the US Pacific coast, 1964; at Tenerife, Canary Islands, a Pan Am jumbo jet collided on take-off with a KLM jumbo- jet on the runway, killing 583, 1977; the musical show Starlight Express was first produced, London, 1984.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday and the Feast Day of St Alkeld or Athilda and St John of Egypt. Tomorrow is also the first day of Passover.