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TODAY: Births: James Thomson, poet, 1834; William H. Bonney (Billy the Kid), outlaw, 1859; Boris Karloff (William Henry Pratt), actor, 1887. Deaths: Thomas Tallis, organist and composer, 1585; Claude of Lorraine (Claude Gelee), landscape painter, 1682; Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen, murderer, executed 1910; Sir Ernest Alfred Thompson Wallis Budge, Orientalist, 1934; Sir Arthur Wing Pinero, playwright, 1934; Andre-Georges Malraux, novelist, 1976; Merle Oberon (Estelle Merle O'Brien Thompson), actress, 1979. On this day: Moliere's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme was first performed, 1670; the first pillar box was erected (at St Helier, Jersey), 1852; Dr Who was first shown by the BBC, 1963; Britain's first commercial radio station was opened on the Isle of Man, 1964; John Major became Prime Minister, 1990. Today is the Feast Day of St Alexander Nevsky, prince, St Amphilochius, St Clement I, pope, St Columbanus, St Felicitas, St Gregory of Girgenti and St Trudo or Trond.

TOMORROW: Births: Baruch (Benedict) de Spinoza, philosopher, 1632; Laurence Sterne, novelist, 1713; Henri-Marie-Raymond de Toulouse-Lautrec, painter, 1864; Scott Joplin, ragtime pianist and composer, 1868. Deaths: John Knox, religious reformer, 1572; Freddie Mercury, rock singer, 1991. On this day: the English Parliament decided that clergy were permitted to marry, 1548; a frost fair was held on the frozen River Thames, 1715; Darwin's Origin of Species was published, 1859. Today is the Feast Day of St Chrysogonus, St Colman of Cloyne and Saints Flora and Mary.