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Births: Gerhardus Mercator (Gerhard Kremer), cartographer, 1512; Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, painter, 1696; Howard Pyle, artist and illustrator, 1853; Sir Henry Hughes Wilson, field marshal, 1864; Benjamin Franklin (Frank) Norris, novelist, 1870; Rosa Luxemburg, Spartacist (socialist) agitator, 1871; William Henry, first Baron Beveridge, of the Beveridge Report on social insurance, 1879; Herbert Farjeon, critic and playwright, 1887; Heitor Villa- Lobos, composer, 1887; Sir Rex Carey Harrison, actor, 1908.

Deaths: Antonio Allegri da Correggio, painter, 1534; Flora Macdonald, Jacobite heroine, 1790; Franz Anton Mesmer, physician and founder of 'animal magnetism', 1815; Hippolyte-Adolphe Taine, historian, 1893; Edward Lee Masters, novelist and poet, 1950; Sergei Sergeyevich Prokofiev, composer, 1953; Joseph Stalin (Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili), Soviet leader, 1953; William Cameron Menzies, film director, 1957; EY 'Yip' Harburg (Isidore Hochberg), composer, killed in a car crash 1981; Tito Gobbi, baritone, 1984; William Powell, actor, 1984.

On this day: the foundation stone of New College, Oxford, was laid, 1397; soldiers fought civilians at Boston - 'the Boston Massacre', US 1770; fire destroyed Covent Garden Theatre, London, 1856; the Nazis made large gains in the German general election, 1933; Winston Churchill made a speech referring to an 'Iron Curtain' across Europe, Fulton, US 1946; Dr Gustav Heinemann became president of West Germany in succession to Dr Heinrich Lubke, 1969.

Today is the Feast Day of Saints Adrian and Eubulus, St Eusebius of Cremona, St Gerasimus, St John Joseph of the Cross, St Kieran of Saighir, St Phocas of Antioch, St Piran and St Virgil of Arles.