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Births: Robert Dodsley, poet and bookseller, 1703; John Hunter, surgeon and anatomist, 1728; David Allan, painter, 1744; Giovanni Giuseppe Cambini, violinist and composer, 1746; Philipp Veit, religious painter, 1793; Lord Randolph Henry Spencer Churchill, politician, 1849; Arthur Mees, conductor and singing teacher, 1850; William Strang, painter and engraver, 1859; Feodor Ivanovich Chaliapin (Shalyapin), operatic bass singer, 1873; Eleanor Farjeon, writer, 1881; Sir Neville Pearson, publisher, 1898; Lewis Grassic Gibbon (James Leslie Mitchell), novelist, 1901; Georges Simenon, novelist, 1901.

Deaths: Sweyn, King of Denmark, 1014; Catherine Howard, fifth wife of Henry VIII, executed 1542; Benvenuto Cellini, sculptor and goldsmith, 1571; Jacopo Bassano, painter, 1592; Cotton Mather, American colonist and writer, 1728; Johann Joseph Fux, composer, 1741; Charles-Ferdinand, Duc de Berri, heir presumptive to the French throne, assassinated 1820; Charles Meryon, etcher, 1868; Wilhelm Richard Wagner, composer, 1883; Sir James Thomas Knowles, editor and architect, 1908; Alphonse Bertillon, criminologist, 1914; Rafael Sabatini, novelist, 1950; Lloyd Cassel Douglas, novelist, 1951; Georges- Henri Rouault, Expressionist painter, 1958; Dame Christabel Harriette Pankhurst, suffragette, 1958; Ildebrando Pizzetti, composer, 1968; Lily (Alice Josephine) Pons, singer, 1976; Jean Renoir, film-maker, 1979.

On this day: William and Mary ascended the throne, 1689; the Campbells murdered the Macdonalds at the Glencoe Massacre, 1692; French troops landed on St Kitts in the West Indies and claimed the island for France, 1782; the trial of Warren Hastings began in Westminster Hall, 1788; Britain, Austria, Prussia, Holland, Spain and Sardinia formed the first coalition against France, 1793; Asiatic cholera first appeared in Limehouse and Rotherhithe, London 1832; the Corps of Commissionaires was founded, 1859; Strauss's waltz The Blue Danube was first played in Vienna, 1867; the Nuffield Foundation was set up, 1943; Alexander Solzhenitsyn was expelled from the Soviet Union, 1974; Konstantin Chernenko was elected secretary-general of the Communist party in the Soviet Union, 1984.

Today is the Feast Day of St Catherine dei Ricci, St Ermenilda or Ermengild, St Licinius or Lesin, St Martinian the Hermit, St Modomnoc, St Polyeuctes of Melitene and St Stephen of Rieti.


Births: Pietro Francesco (Caletti di Bruni) Cavalli, composer, 1602; Claude-Prosper Jolyot, sieur de Crebillon (Crebillon Fils), novelist, 1707; Thomas Robert Malthus, economist, 1766; Jose Fernando Macari Sor, composer and guitarist, 1778; Heinrich Joseph Barmann, clarinettist, 1784; Alexander Sergeyevich Dargomitzhsky, composer, 1813; Christopher Latham Sholes, inventor of an early typewriter, 1819; Hans Seeling, pianist and conductor, 1828; Quintin Hogg, founder of the Polytechnic, 1845; Frank (James Thomas) Harris, journalist and author, 1856; Carl von Marr, artist, 1858; Israel Zangwill, novelist, playwright and Zionist leader, 1864; Frederick Philip Grove (Felix Paul Berthold Friedrich Greve), novelist, 1879; Jack Benny (Benjamin Kubelsky), comedian and actor, 1894.

Deaths: Pope Honorius II, 1130; Richard II, King, 1400; Fiorenzo di Lorenzo, painter, 1525; John Hadley, mathematician and inventor, 1744; Captain James Cook, sea-captain and explorer, murdered 1779; Sir William Blackstone, jurist, 1780; Henry Maudslay, engineer and inventor, 1831; William Tecumseh Sherman, general, 1891; John Macallan Swan, painter and sculptor, 1910; Hendrick Antoon Lorentz, physicist, 1928; Maj-Gen Henry Edward Manning Douglas VC, 1939; Sir William Rothenstein, artist, 1945; Sir Pelham Granville (PG) Wodehouse, 1975; Sir Julian Sorell Huxley, biologist and philosopher, 1975; Frederick (Fritz) Loewe, composer, 1988.

On this day: the Great Swabian League was formed, 1488; King William III announced to Parliament the discovery of the plot by Sir John Fenwick to assassinate him, 1696; the Spanish Fleet was defeated off Cape St Vincent by John Jervis and Horatio Nelson, 1797; Oregon became the 33rd of the United States, 1859; Hawaii was annexed by treaty to the US (withdrawn on 9 March by the President), 1893; Yuan Shi-kai became the first president of the Chinese republic, 1912; Arizona became the 48th of the United States, 1912; Marconi began the first regular broadcasting transmissions in England, 1922; the St Valentine's Day Massacre took place in Chicago, 1929; the German 42,345 ton-battleship Bismarck was launched, 1939; the Bank of England was nationalised, 1946; Nikita Khrushchev, at the 20th Soviet Communist Party Conference, denounced the policies of Josef Stalin, 1956; South Africa introduced decimal coinage based on the new 'Rand', 1961; Harold Wilson became leader of the British Labour Party, 1963.

Tomorrow is St Valentine's Day and the Feast Day of St Abraham of Carrhae, St Adolf of Osnabruck, St Antoninus of Sorrento, St Auxentius, St Conran, Saints Cyril and Methodius, St John Baptist of the Conception and St Maro.