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Today: 8.8.92

Births: Sir Godfrey Kneller (Gottfried Kniller), painter, 1646; Jacques Basnage de Beauval, Protestant theologian, 1653; Francis Hutcheson, philosopher, 1694; George Cattermole, water-colour painter, 1800; Wilhelm Friedrich Wieprecht, inventor of the bass- tuba, 1802; William Bateson, biologist, 1861; Cecile-Louise-Stephanie Chaminade, composer and pianist, 1861; Frank Richards (Charles Harold St John Hamilton), author and creator of 'Billy Bunter', 1876; Ernest Orlando Lawrence, physicist and inventor of the cyclotron, 1901; Paul Adrien Maurice Dirac, physicist, 1902.

Deaths: Thomas a Kempis (Thomas Hammerken von Kempen), Augustinian monk and writer, 1471; Antoine Arnauld, Jansenist theologian, 1694; George Canning, statesman, 1827; Lucia Elizabeth Vestris (Matthews), actress, 1856; Dr Robert Moffat, missionary and traveller, 1883; Sir William James Erasmus Wilson, dermatologist, who, at his own expense, brought 'Cleopatra's Needle' to London, 1884; Jakob Christopher Burckhardt, art historian, 1897; Viktor Meyer, chemist, 1897; Eugene-Louis Boudin, painter, 1898; James-Joseph-Jacques Tissot, painter and illustrator, 1902; Frank Winfield Woolworth, chain store founder, 1919; Jaromir Weinberger, composer, 1967; James Gould Cozzens, novelist, 1978; Nicholas John Turney Montsarrat, novelist, 1979; Louise Brooks, actress, 1985.

On this day: the Treaty of Mersen was signed, 870; Queen Elizabeth I reviewed her troops at Tilbury, 1588; the first mail-coach ran in Britain - from London to Bristol, 1784; Dr Michel Paccard and Jacques Balmat reached the summit of Mont Blanc, 1786; the Poor Law Act was passed in England, 1834; an outbreak of yellow fever occurred in Florida, especially in Jacksonville, 1888; the British Academy was granted a Royal Charter, 1902; the first British troops arrived in France, 1914; the Battle of Amiens began, 1918; the Treaty of Rawalpindi was signed, 1919; the dirigible Akron was launched, 1931; the Battle of Britain began, 1940; pounds 2,500,000 was stolen in the Great Train Robbery from a train at Cheddington, near Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, 1963; President Richard Nixon resigned, the first US president to do so, 1974; the London production of the musical show Forty-Second Street was first presented, 1984; John McCarthy, the journalist held hostage by Islamic Jihad in the Lebanon since 1986, was freed, 1991.

Today is the Feast Day of St Altman, Saints Cyriacus, Largus and Smaragdus, St Dominic, The Fourteen Holy Helpers and St Hormisdas the Martyr.

Tomorrow: 9.8.92

Births: Izaak Walton, author of The Compleat Angler, 1593; Thomas Telford, civil engineer, 1757; Michael Umlauf, violinist and composer, 1781; Robert Nicolas Charles Bochsa, harpist and composer, 1789; Alvan Fisher, portrait painter, 1792; George Payne Rainsford James, novelist, 1799; Reynaldo Hahn, Venezuelan composer, 1874; Albert William Ketelbey, composer, 1875; Leonide Fedorovich Massine, dancer and choreographer, 1896; Jean Piaget, child psychologist, 1896; Robert Aldrich, film director, 1918; Giles Stannus Cooper, playwright, 1918; Philip Arthur Larkin, poet, 1922.

Deaths: Trajan, Roman emperor, 117; Maarten Harpertszoon Tromp, admiral, 1653; Xavier Sigalon, painter, 1837; Capt Frederick Marryat, novelist, 1848; Dr John Hill Burton, historian and jurist, 1881; Sir Samuel Ferguson, poet, 1886; Sir Edward Frankland, chemist, 1899; Ernst Heinrich Haeckel, biologist, 1919; Nikolai Miaskovsky, composer, 1950; John Jeffrey Farnol, novelist, 1952; Herman Hesse, poet and novelist, 1962; Dmitri Dmitryevich Shostakovich, composer, 1975.

On this day: the Battle of Adrianople was fought between the Goths and the Roman emperor Valens, 378; revolutionaries established the Commune in Paris, 1792; the border between Canada and the United States was established, 1842; the first Atlantic cable was completed by Cyrus Field, 1858; the Elementary Education Act was passed, 1870; the Married Women's Property Act was passed, improving the situation of British wives, 1870; the island of Heligoland was transferred to Germany, 1890; the coronation of Edward VII took place in Westminster Abbey, 1902; 6,000 people were killed and 40,000 made homeless, following an earthquake in the Constantinople area (Istanbul), 1912; an atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki, 1945; Cyprus was attacked by Turkish aircraft, 1964; Singapore became independent, 1965; the London production of the musical show Jesus Christ Superstar was first presented, 1972; Gerald Ford succeeded Richard Nixon as 38th US President, 1974.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Emygius, Saints Nathy and Felim, St Oswald of Northumbria and St Romanus.