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Births: Pope Gregory XV, 1554; Georg Draud (Draudius), pastor and bibliographer, 1573; Gilbert Abbott A Beckett, comic writer and playwright, 1811; Carrie Chapman Catt (Lane), suffragette, 1859; Lascelles Abercrombie, poet and critic, 1881; Wolfgang Kohler, psychologist, 1887; Dame Gracie Fields (Grace Stansfield), singer and actress, 1898; Simone-Lucie-Ernestine-Marie de Beauvoir, novelist and critic, 1908; Gypsy Rose Lee (Rose Louise Hovick), actress and strip- tease artist, 1914.

Deaths: Napoleon III (Louis-Napoleon), French emperor, in exile 1873; Katherine Mansfield, author, 1923; Karl Mannheim, sociologist, 1947; Sir Charles Curran, Director-General of the BBC, 1980; Sir Frederick Gibberd, architect, 1984; Sir Robert Mayer, musical philanthropist, 1985.

On this day: Jean-Pierre Blanchard, aeronaut, made the first balloon ascent near Woodbury, New Jersey 1793; Income Tax was introduced by the Younger Pitt, the rate being two shillings in the pound, 1799; Sir Humphry Davy's safety lamp was first used in a coal mine, 1816; the Reichstag building, rebuilt after the fire in 1933, was opened by Hitler in Berlin, 1939; Anthony Eden resigned as Prime Minister, 1957; the De Havilland Trident aircraft made its maiden flight, 1962; the first trial flight of Concorde took place, Bristol 1969; the liner Queen Elizabeth was destroyed by fire, Hong Kong 1972; 280,000 coal-miners went on strike, 1972; Swan and Edgar, the Piccadilly department store, closed, 1982. Today is the Feast Day of St Berhtwald of Canterbury, Saints Julian and Basilissa, St Marciana of Rusuccur, St Peter of Sebastea and St Waningus or Vaneng.


Births: Dr George Birkbeck, educationist, 1776; John Emerich Acton, first Lord Acton, historian, 1834; Karl Machtig, organist and composer, 1836; Grock (Adrien Wettach), clown, 1880; Alexei Nikolayevich Tolstoy, novelist and playwright, 1883; Francis Xavier Bushman, actor, 1883; John Robinson Jeffers, poet, 1887; Dame Barbara Hepworth, sculptor, 1903; Paul Henreid (Paul George Julius von Hernreid), actor, 1908.

Deaths: Pope Gregory X, 1276; William Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, beheaded 1645; Johann Georg Adam Forster, explorer and scientist, 1794; Adrien-Marie Legendre, mathematician, 1833; Mary Russell Mitford, author, 1855; Samuel Colt, gunsmith, 1862; William Frederick Cody ('Buffalo Bill'), 1917; Frank Bridge, composer, 1941; Sir John Lavery, painter, 1941; Gabriela Mistral, poet, 1945; Harry von Tilzer, song- writer, 1946; Harry Sinclair Lewis, novelist, 1951; Samuel Dashiell Hammett, detective story writer, 1961; Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel, 1971; Chester Burnett ('Howling Wolf'), blues singer, 1976; Anton Karas, composer and zither-player, 1985.

On this day: Britain declared war on the King of Kandy, Ceylon 1815; the Royal Exchange, designed by Sir Christopher Wren, burned down, 1838; the penny post was begun, when 112,000 letters were posted in London, 1840; the London Underground (Metropolitan Railway) system was started, 1863; universal direct suffrage was inaugurated, Austria 1907; the League of Nations was inaugurated, 1920; the First World War officially ended after the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles by Germany and the Allies, 1920; Eupen and Malmedy were united to Belgium, 1920; the film Metropolis, by Fritz Lang, was first shown, Berlin 1926; the cartoon character 'Tintin' appeared for the first time, 1929; the British government forbade citizens to enlist in armies of either side in the Spanish Civil War, 1937; HMS Southampton and HMS Illustrious, while on convoy, were hit by German bombers, 1941; the European Coal and Steel Community met for the first time, 1953; the New London Theatre opened, Drury Lane 1973; over 2,000 people died when the Niragong volcano erupted, Zaire 1977.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Agatho, pope, St Dermot or Diarmaid, St John the Good, St Marcian of Constantinople, St Peter Orseolo and St William of Bourges.