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Births: Thomas Paine, writer and reformer, 1737; Sir Ebenezer Howard, garden cities originator, 1850; Anton Pavlovich Chekhov, writer and playwright, 1860; Frederick Delius, composer, 1862; Romain Rolland, novelist, 1866; Vicente Blasco Ibanez, novelist, 1867; Sir William Rothenstein, artist, 1872; Havergal Brian, composer, 1876; WC Fields (William Claude Dukinfield), comedian, 1880; Paddy Sidney Chayefsky, playwright and scriptwriter, 1923.

Deaths: King George III, 1820; Edward Lear, landscape painter and writer, 1888; Alfred Sisley, landscape painter, 1899; Evelyn Baring, first Earl of Cromer, diplomat, 1917; Douglas Haig, first Earl Haig, soldier, 1928; William Butler Yeats, poet and playwright, 1939; Ioannis Metaxas, Greek statesman and general, 1941; Harry Lloyd Hopkins, politician, 1946; James Bridie (Osborne Henry Mavor), playwright and physician, 1951; Henry Louis Mencken, writer, author of The American Language, 1956; Angela Margaret Thirkell, novelist, 1961; Robert Lee Frost, poet, 1963; Jimmy (James Francis) Durante, comedian, 1980.

On this day: The Good-Natured Man, by Oliver Goldsmith, was first performed, Covent Garden, London, 1768; George IV acceded to the British throne, 1820; the marriage of Napoleon III and Eugenie de Montijo took place at the Tuileries, Paris, 1853; the Victoria Cross was founded, 1856; Karl- Friedrich Benz patented his motor-driven two-seater tricycle, 1886; the Holborn Empire theatre, London, opened, 1906; the first bombing of Paris by Zeppelins took place, 1916; the radio programme Desert Island Discs was first broadcast, 1942; the musical show Sweet Charity was first produced in London, 1967.

Today is the Feast Day of St Gildas the Wise, St Sabinian of Troyes and St Sulpicius 'Severus'.