Anniversaries: 24th January 1996

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Births: Hadrian, Roman emperor, 76; 1638; Sir John Vanbrugh, playwright, baptised 1664; William Congreve, playwright, 1670; Farinelli (Carlo Broschi), castrato singer, 1705; Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, playwright, 1732; Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann, author and composer, 1776; Edith Newbold (Jones) Wharton, novelist, 1862; Ann Todd, actress, 1909. Deaths: Caligula, Roman emperor, assassinated 41; Lord Randolph Churchill (Randolph Henry Spencer Churchill), politician, 1895; Amedeo Modigliani, painter and sculptor, 1920; Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, statesman, 1965; George Cukor, film director, 1983. On this day: Henry III, King of England, married Eleanor of Provence, 1236; Cape Horn was rounded by Willem Corneliszoon Schouten, 1616; gold was first discovered by James Marshall at Sutter's sawmill in California, 1848; the first train passed over the Forth Bridge, 1890; the first Conscription Bill was passed by the House of Commons, 1916; the Central Statistical Office was founded, 1941; Mae West made her London stage debut in her own play, Diamond Lil, 1948; the 270,000-ton Olympic Bravery tanker ran aground off France, 1976. Today is the Feast Day of St Babylas of Antioch, St Felician of Foligno, St Francis of Sales and St Macedonius the Barley-eater.