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Births: Thomas a Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, 1118; Masaccio (Tommaso di Giovanni), painter, 1401; Mathurin Regnier, satirical poet, 1573; Jean Racine, playwright, 1639; Benoit-Tranquille Berbiguier, flautist and composer, 1782; Sir Joseph Whitworth Bt, mechanical engineer, 1803; Benjamin Disraeli, first Earl of Beaconsfield, statesman, 1804; Thomas Couture, painter, 1815; Ernst Pauer, pianist and musical editor, 1826; Mily Alekseievich Balakirev, composer, 1837; John Seymour Lucas, painter, 1849; Nathaniel (Nat) Gould, racing novelist, 1857; Iosif Vissarionovich Dzhugashvili (Joseph Stalin), Soviet leader, 1879; Harry Revel, popular composer and pianist, 1905; Heinrich Boll, author, 1917; Frank Hampson, creator of 'Dan Dare', 1918.

Deaths: Giovanni Boccaccio, author, 1375; Vicente Joanes, painter, 1579; Catherine of Braganza, consort of King Charles II, 1705; James Parkinson, surgeon and palaeontologist, 1824; Niels Wilhelm Gade, composer, 1890; Walter Hines Page, US ambassador and editor, 1918; Frank Billings Kellogg, politician, 1937; Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald, novelist, 1940; Gladys Ripley, contralto, 1955; Lewis Terman, psychologist, 1956; Lion Feuchtwanger, novelist and playwright, 1958; Sir Jack Hobbs, cricketer, 1963.

On this day: the Duke of Austria captured Richard Coeur de Lion, 1192; the Pilgrim Fathers landed at Plymouth Rock in North America, 1620; the first co-operative store was opened in Rochdale, 1844; anaesthetics were used for the first time in Britain (by Robert Liston), 1846; Charley's Aunt, the farce by Brandon Thomas, was first performed, 1892; the Port of London Authority was inaugurated, 1908; 344 people died after a colliery disaster at Pretoria Pit, Bolton, 1910; the New York World published a crossword puzzle - the first newspaper to do so, 1913; the premiere of the first full- length full-colour animated cartoon, Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, took place, 1935; General Charles de Gaulle was elected president of the French Fifth Republic, 1958; the first flight of Man around the moon started when Apollo 8 was launched, 1969.

Today is the Feast Day of St Anastasius II of Antioch, St Glycerius, St John Vincent, St Peter Canisius and Saints Themistocles & Dioscorus.