Births: Otto von Guericke, physicist, 1602; Thomas Chatterton, poet, 1752; Pope Pius VIII, 1761; Friedrich Heinrich Himmel, harpsichordist and composer, 1765; John Wall Callcott, organist and composer, 1766; Sir Samuel Cunard, shipowner, 1787; William Chappell, music publisher, 1809; Albert F. Bellows, landscape painter, 1829; Sir Wilfrid Laurier, statesman, 1841; Josiah Royce, philosopher, 1855; Selma Ottiliana Lovisa Lagerlof, novelist, 1858; Edwin Powell Hubble, astronomer, 1889; Henri-Georges Clouzot, film director, 1907; Gene Tierney, actress, 1920; Robert Francis Kennedy, politician, 1925.

Deaths: Sir Christopher Hatton, Lord Chancellor, 1591; Sir John Harington, translator and writer, 1612; Queen Caroline of Ansbach, consort of George II, 1737; Henry Draper, astronomer, 1882; Anton Grigoryevich Rubinstein, pianist and composer, 1894; Lev Nikolayevich, Count Tolstoy, novelist, 1910; Queen Alexandra, consort of King Edward VII, 1925; John Rushworth Jellicoe, first Earl Jellicoe, admiral of the fleet, 1935; Francis William Aston, physicist, 1945; Admiral Luis Carrero Blanco, prime minister of Spain, assassinated 1973; Francisco Paulino Hermengildo Teodulo Franco Bahamonde, Spanish dictator, 1975.

On this day: the French invasion fleet was destroyed by Admiral Hawke at Quiberon Bay, 1759; Beethoven's opera Fidelio was first performed in Vienna, 1805; Venezuela was declared to be independent of Spain by Simon Bolivar, 1818; Charles Stewart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce combined to form the firm of Rolls Royce, 1906; British tanks took part in their first major battle at Cambrai, 1917; after five years of blackout, lights were switched on in London in Piccadilly, the Strand and Fleet Street, 1944; the War Crimes trial at Nuremberg began, 1945; the Allied Control Commission approved the transfer of 6 million Germans from Austria, Hungary and Poland to West Germany, 1945; the Queen (then Princess Elizabeth) married the Duke of Edinburgh, 1947; Snowdonia was declared a National Park, 1951; after the Soviet Union agreed to withdraw Ilyushin bombers from Cuba, the United States lifted the blockade, 1962.

Today is the Feast Day of St Bernward, St Dasius, St Edmund the Martyr, St Felix of Valois, St Maxentia of Beauvais and St Nerses of Sahgerd.


Births: Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet), philosopher and writer, 1694; Cornelius Varley, water-colour painter, 1781; Lewis Henry Morgan, ethnologist and lawyer, 1818; James Clarke Hook, painter, 1819; Walter William Skeat, philologist, 1835; Arthur Goring Thomas, composer, 1850; Sir Leslie Ward ('Spy'), caricaturist, 1851; Francesco Tarrega, composer, 1852; Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch ('Q'), novelist and editor, 1863; Mary Johnston, author, 1870; Harpo (Adolph, or Arthur) Marx, comedian, 1888; Rene-Francois-Ghislain Magritte, Surrealist painter, 1898.

Deaths: Sir Thomas Gresham, founder of the Royal Exchange, 1579; Henry Purcell, composer, 1695; Bernd Heinrich Wilhelm von Kleist, poet and playwright, committed suicide 1811; Jean-Nicolas Buache, geographer and cartographer, 1825; Mariano Jose Maria Bernardo Fortuny, painter, 1874; Prince Keiki Tokugawa, 15th and last of the Shoguns of Japan, 1913; Franz Josef I, Emperor of Austria, 1916; James Barry Munnik Hertzog, statesman, 1942; Dominic Bevan Wyndham Lewis, author, 1969; Sir Chandrasekhara Venkata Raman, physicist, 1970; Martin Tickner, theatrical producer, 1993.

On this day: the Montgolfier brothers made the first hot-air balloon flight, 1783; North Carolina became the 12th of the United States, 1789; the Congress of Aix-la-Chapelle ended, 1818; the British hospital ship Britannia was sunk by a mine in the Aegean, with the loss of 100 lives, 1916; a Bill making women eligible as MPs received Royal Assent, 1918; the German battle fleet surrendered to the Allies, 1918; the remains of 'Piltdown Man', discovered in 1912, were proved to be forged, 1953; construction work began on the Forth Road Bridge, 1958; following IRA bomb explosions in Birmingham, 20 people were killed and 200 injured, 1974; proceedings in Parliament were televised for the first time, 1989.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Albert of Louvain and St Gelasius I, pope.

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