Births: Luca Pulci, poet and banker, 1431; Jan Gruter, scholar and critic, 1560; Nicolo Amati, violin-maker, 1596; Johann Franz Xaver Sterkel, priest, pianist and composer, 1750; Samuel Crompton, inventor of the spinning mule, 1753; Joseph Gelinek, priest, pianist and composer, 1758; Robert Bloomfield, shoemaker and poet, 1766; Sir Rowland Hill, originator of the penny post, 1795; The Rev Robert Stephen Hawker, poet and antiquary, 1803; Frederic Leighton, first Baron, painter and sculptor, 1830; Octavia Hill, philanthropist, 1838; George Manson, water-colour painter, 1850; Cecil Gordon Lawson, landscape painter, 1851; Joseph Conrad (Josef Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski), novelist, 1857; Anton Friedrich Wilhelm von Webern, composer, 1883; Rajendra Prasad, first president of India, 1884; Nigel Marlin Balchin, novelist, 1908; Irving Fine, composer, 1914; Maria Anna Cecilia Sofia Callas (Kalogeropoulos), operatic soprano, 1923.

Deaths: St Francis Xavier, missionary, 1552; Alessandro Farnese, Third Duke of Parma, military commander, 1592; Jacques Sarrazin, painter and sculptor, 1660; Claude Joseph Vernet, painter, 1789; Giovanni Battista Belzoni, explorer and Egyptologist, 1823; Frederick VI, King of Denmark, 1839; Robert Montgomery, poet, 1855; Christian Daniel Rauch, sculptor, 1857; Hermann Gustav Gotz, composer, 1876; Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson, novelist, 1894; Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, 1910; Pierre-Auguste Renoir, painter, 1919; Christian August Sinding, composer, 1941; Dame Mary Jean Gilmore, poet, 1962; Marshal Kliment Yefremovich Voroshilov, Russian leader and soldier, 1969; Sir Oswald Ernald Mosley, Fascist leader, 1980.

On this day: in America, The New Jersey Gazette was issued in Burlington, 1776; the French defeated the Austrians at the Battle of Hohenlinden, 1800; Madrid surrendered to Napoleon's army, 1808; Mauritius was captured from the French by the British, 1810; Illinois became the 21st state of the USA, 1818; the newly built Alhambra Theatre opened in London, 1883; the Battle of Cambrai ended, 1917; the first public trial of a rotor wind-power system for ships was held at Kiel, Germany, 1924; the musical show Ever Green was first produced, London 1930; the present and fourth Adelphi Theatre opened in the Strand, London, 1930; the Statute of Westminster was passed, under which British Dominions became sovereign states under the Crown, 1931; the Home Guard 'stood down' with a parade of 7,000 in Hyde Park, London, 1944; Dr Christiaan Barnard performed the first heart transplant, South Africa 1967.

Today is the Feast Day of St Cassian of Tangier, Saints Claudius, Hilaria and their Companions, St Francis Xavier and St Lucius of Britain.

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