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Births: John Dryden, poet, 1631; John Flamsteed, first Astronomer Royal, 1646; Samuel Richardson, novelist, baptised 1689; Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel, fashion designer, 1883; Frederic Ogden Nash, humorist, 1902.

Deaths: Augustus, first Roman emperor, 14; James Watt, engineer, 1819; Sergei Pavlovich Diaghilev, ballet director and choreographer, 1929; Federico Garcia Lorca, poet and playwright, 1936; Julius ('Groucho') Marx, comedian, 1977; Alastair Sim, actor, 1976; Sir Frederick Ashton, choreographer, 1988.

On this day: Mary, Queen of Scots returned to Scotland from France, 1561; a plebiscite held in Germany gave sole power to the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, 1934; Lt-Gen Bernard Montgomery became commander of the British Eighth Army in North Africa, 1942; Michael Ryan, a 27-year-old marksman, went on a rampage, killing 14 people in Hungerford, Berkshire, and finally himself, 1987; the Soviet news agency Tass announced that the vice-president, Gennady Yanayev, had taken over the presidency of the Soviet Union 'because of the ill-health of Mikhail Gorbachev' and a state emergency was declared, 1991.

Today is the Feast Day of Saints Agapius and Timothy, St Andrew the Tribune, St Bertulf of Bobbio, St Credan of Evesham, St John Eudes, St Louis of Anjou and St Mocha.