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TODAY: Births: John Dryden, poet, 1631; Samuel Richardson, novelist, baptised 1689; Orville Wright, pioneer aviator, 1871; Gabrielle (Coco) Chanel, fashion designer, 1883. Deaths: Blaise Pascal, theologian and mathematician, 1662; James Watt, engineer, 1819; Sir Henry Joseph Wood, conductor, 1944. On this day: Mary, Queen of Scots returned to Scotland from France, 1561; a plebiscite held in Germany gave sole power to the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, 1934. Today is the Feast Day of Saints Agapius and Timothy, St Andrew the Tribune, St Bertulf of Bobbio, St Credan of Evesham, St John Eudes, St Louis of Anjou, St Mocha, St Sebald, St Sixtus III and St Thecla.

TOMORROW: Births: George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham, courtier, 1592; Thomas Corneille, playwright, 1625. Deaths: Johan de Witt, statesman, with his brother Cornelis, murdered by the mob 1672; William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, 1912; Leon Trotsky (Lev Davidovich Bronstein), politician, murdered 1940. On this day: the German army occupied Brussels, 1914; Calder Hall nuclear power station began operating, 1956; Russian troops invaded Czechoslovakia, and fighting broke out in Prague, 1968. Today is the Feast Day of St Amator or Amadour, St Bernard of Clairvaux, St Oswin, St Rognwald or Ronald and St Philibert.