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Births: Pierre-Alexandre Monsigny, composer, 1729; Claude-Henri, Comte de Saint-Simon, economist and social reformer, 1760; Karl Georg Buchner, playwright, 1813; Baroness Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen), author, 1885; Spring Byington, actress, 1893; Nathanael West (Nathan Wallenstein Weinstein), novelist, 1903; Montgomery Clift, actor, 1920.

Deaths: Sir Philip Sidney, poet, soldier and courtier, died of septicaemia after being wounded, Arnhem, 1586; John Brown, physician and medical reformer, 1788; George Colman (the younger), playwright, 1836; Gustav Robert Kirchhoff, physicist, 1887; Marie-Edme- Patrice-Maurice Mac-Mahon, Duc de Magenta, Marshal of France, statesman, 1893; Ludwig III, ex-King of Bavaria, 1921; Karl Kautsky, moderate Marxist theorist, 1938; Ellsworth Huntington, geographer, 1947; Sidney Joseph Perelman, humorist, 1979.

On this day: David II of Scotland was defeated and captured at the Battle of Neville's Cross in Durham, 1346; Charles II escaped from Cromwell's army across the English Channel, 1651; the British General Burgoyne surrendered to General Horatio Gates at Saratoga during the American War of Independence, 1777; Napoleon was exiled and arrived on the island of St Helena, 1815; Sir Henry Bessemer patented a steel-making process, 1855; Turkey declared war on Bulgaria and Serbia, 1912; the republics of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia were formally established, 1918; Cyrano de Bergerac was the first radio play broadcast in Britain from 2MT Writtle, 1922; Al Capone, bootlegger, was sentenced to 11 years in jail for income-tax evasion, US 1931; the first nuclear power station in the world was opened at Calder Hall, 1956; the De Beers diamond firm in South Africa announced that synthetic diamonds had been made, 1959.

Today is the Feast Day of St Anstrudis or Austrude, Saints Ethelbert and Ethelred, St Ignatius of Antioch, St John the Dwarf, St Nothelm, St Rule, St Seraphino and the Ursuline Martyrs of Valenciennes.


Births: Pope Pius II, 1405; Gianbattista Marino, poet, 1569; Thomas Phillips, portrait painter, 1770; Bernd Heinrich Wilhelm von Kleist, poet and playwright, 1777; Thomas Love Peacock, novelist and poet, 1785; James Truslow Adams, historian, 1878; Emanuel, Baron Shinwell, statesman, 1884; Fannie Hurst, novelist, 1889.

Deaths: Pope Gregory XII, 1417; Pope Pius III, 1503; Margaret, Queen of Scotland, 1541; Jakob Jordaens, painter, 1678; Charles Babbage, mathematician and computer inventor, 1871; Thomas Alva Edison, inventor, 1931; Jose Ortega y Gasset, philosopher and statesman, 1955; Elizabeth Arden (Florence Nightingale Graham), cosmetics company founder, 1966; Pierre Mendes-France, statesman, 1982.

On this day: the Edict of Nantes was revoked by King Louis XIV of France, 1685; the British bombarded Portland, Maine ('Falmouth'), 1775; the Allies launched a massive attack against the French at the Battle of Leipzig, 1813; in the United States, John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry was defeated, 1859; Russia officially transferred Alaska to the US, 1866; Aldwych and Kingsway were opened, London 1905; Tripoli and Cyrenaica were ceded to Italy at the end of the Italo-Turkish War, 1912; Rheims Cathedral was reconsecrated, 1937; the News Chronicle was merged with the Daily Mail and the Star was merged with the London Evening News, 1960; Erich Honecker resigned as head of the East German state, 1989; Hungary was proclaimed a free republic, with an end to Communist rule, 1989.

Tomorrow is the Feast Day of St Gwen of Cornwall, St Justus of Beauvais and St Luke.