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TODAY: Births: Thomas Hobbes, philosopher, 1588; Giovanni Giacomo Casanova, Chevalier de Seingalt, lover and adventurer, 1724; Jean-Honore Fragonard, painter, 1732; Joseph Lister, first Baron Lister, surgeon and pioneer of antiseptics in surgery, 1827; Spencer Tracy, actor, 1900; Bette (Ruth Elizabeth) Davis, actress, 1908. Deaths: Georges-Jacques Danton, French revolutionary leader, guillotined 1794; George Herbert, fifth Earl of Carnarvon, Egyptologist, 1923; Douglas MacArthur, general, 1964; Howard Robard Hughes, aviator, industrialist and film producer, 1976; Chiang Kai-shek, statesman and soldier, 1975; Marshal of the RAF Sir Arthur Travers Harris Bt, former chief of Bomber Command, 1984. On this day: Oscar Wilde was arrested for offences committed with Lord Alfred Douglas, 1895; the second Battle of the Somme ended, 1918; Sir Winston Churchill resigned as Prime Minister, 1955; in Sicily, Mount Etna erupted, followed by violent flows of lava, 1971; Sir Harold Wilson resigned as Prime Minister, 1976. Today is the Feast Day of St Albert of Montecorvino, St Derfel-Gadarn, St Ethelburga of Lyminge, St Gerald of Sauve-Majeure and St Vincent Ferrer.

TOMORROW: Births: Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, playwright and poet, 1671; Rene Lalique, jewellery designer, 1860; Harry Houdini (Erich Weiss), stage magician and escapist, 1874; Anthony Herman Gerard Fokker, aircraft designer, 1890; Sir John Betjeman, poet, 1906. Deaths: Richard I (Coeur de Lion), King of England, killed in battle 1199; Albrecht Durer, artist, 1528; Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky, composer, 1971. On this day: St Paul's Cathedral and other churches were badly damaged following an earthquake tremor in London, 1580; George Washington was elected as first US president, 1789; the first modern Olympic Games were inaugurated at Athens, 1896; the United States declared war on Germany, 1917. Today is the Feast Day of St Celestine I, pope, St Eutychius of Constantinople, St Marcellinus of Carthage, St Prudentius of Troyes and St William of Eskilsoe.