Births: Giovanni Battista Guarini, poet, 1538; Thomas Holcroft, translator and playwright, 1745; Cesar-Auguste Franck, composer, 1822; George MacDonald, poet and novelist, 1824; Emily Elizabeth Dickinson, poet, 1830; Melvil Dewey, inventor of the library cataloguing system, 1851; Ernest Howard Shepard, illustrator of Winnie the Pooh, 1879; Lew Brown (Louis Brownstein), song writer, 1893; Mary Pearson Norton, children's author (of The Borrowers), 1903; Antonin Novotny, political leader, 1904; Olivier Messiaen, composer and organist, 1908.

Deaths: Paolo Uccello (Paolo di Dono), painter, 1475; Tommaso Grossi, poet and novelist, 1853; Dr Thomas Southwood Smith, sanitary reformer, 1861; Leopold I, King of the Belgians, 1865; Alfred Bernhard Nobel, industrialist and philanthropist, 1896; Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, botanist, 1911; Charles Rennie Mackintosh, architect, painter and art nouveau pioneer, 1928; Luigi Pirandello, playwright and novelist, 1936; Alfred Damon Runyon, writer, 1946.

On this day: the Gregorian calendar was adopted in France, 1582; Mississippi became the 20th of the United States, 1817; the first pneumatic tyres were patented by Robert Thomson, 1845; Louis Napoleon was elected President of France by a large majority, 1848; the United States and Spain signed a Peace Treaty in Paris, 1898; Cuba became independent of Spain, 1898; the first Nobel Prizes were awarded, 1901; the Aswan Dam in Egypt was opened, 1902; the National Farmers' Union was founded in London, 1908; Puccini's opera La Fanciulla del West was first produced, New York, 1910; Piccadilly underground station was opened in London, 1928; King Edward VIII abdicated, and became Duke of Windsor, 1936; the Royal Naval battleships Prince of Wales and Repulse were sunk by Japanese aircraft, 1941; the United Nations General Assembly issued the Declaration of Human Rights, 1948; Zanzibar became independent, 1963; Concorde made its first scheduled flight from London to Singapore, 1977.

Today is the Feast Day of St Edmund Gerhings, St Eulalia of Merida, St Eustace White, St Gregory III, pope, St John Roberts, Saints Mannas, Hermogenes and Eugraphus, St Melchiades or Miltiades, St Polydore Plaaden and St Swithin Wells.

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