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Births: Johan de Witt, statesman, 1625; Horace Walpole, fourth Earl of Orford, writer, 1717; Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, novelist, 1896; Konstantin Chernenko, Soviet leader, 1911.

Deaths: Pepin III (the Short), King of the Franks, 768; Henry, first Viscount Hardinge of Lahore, Governor General of India, 1856; Dame Isobel Baillie, oratorio singer, 1983.

On this day: the St Leger horse race was run for the first time, 1776; Henri Giffard, a French mechanic, flew from Paris to Trappe in the first dirigible balloon, 1852; Marks and Spencer opened their first 'Penny Bazaar' at Cheetham, Manchester, 1894.

Today is the Feast Day of St Gerard of Csanad, St Geremarus or Germer, St Pacifico of San Severino and St Robert Flower of Knaresborough.


Births: Jean-Philippe Rameau, composer, 1683; Felicia Dorothea Hemans, poet, 1793; William Harrison Faulkner, novelist, 1897; Mark Rothko (Marcus Rothkovich), painter, 1903; Dmitri Dmitriyevich Shostakovich, composer, 1906.

Deaths: Samuel Butler, poet, writer and satirist, 1680; Johann Baptist Strauss the Elder, composer, 1849; Emily Post (Price), writer and columnist, 1960; Nikolai Poliakov (Coco the Clown), 1974.

On this day: the Pacific Ocean was discovered by Vasco Nunez de Balboa, 1513; the Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square, London, opened, 1888; the first transatlantic telephone cable (Newfoundland to Oban) between America and Britain came into use, 1956.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Albert of Jerusalem, St Aunaire, St Ceolfrith, St Finbar, St Firminus of Amiens, St Sergius of Radonezh and St Vincent Strambi.