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TODAY: Births: Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, playwright and poet, 1671; Gustave Moreau, painter, 1826; Rene Lalique, jewellery designer, 1860; Harry Houdini (Erich Weiss), stage magician and escapist, 1874; Sir John Betjeman, poet, 1906. Deaths: Richard I (Coeur de Lion), King of England, killed in battle 1199; Albrecht Durer, artist, 1528; Sir Francis Walsingham, statesman, 1590; Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky, composer, 1971. On this day: St Paul's Cathedral was 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; on his seventh attempt, the American Robert Edwin Peary became the first man to reach the North Pole, 1909; Sir Anthony Eden became prime minister, 1955. 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.

TOMORROW: Births: St Francis Xavier, Jesuit missionary, 1506; William Wordsworth, poet, 1770; Daisy (Margaret Mary Julia) Ashford, author, aged 9, of The Young Visiters, 1881; Billie Holiday (Eleanora Fagan), jazz singer, 1915. Deaths: El Greco (Domenikos Theotokopoulos), painter, 1614; Richard (Dick) Turpin, highwayman, hanged 1739; Phineas Taylor Barnum, showman, 1891; Henry Ford, motor manufacturer, 1947; Theda Bara (Theodosia Goodman), actress, 1955. On this day: in France, the metre was made the official measuring unit of length, 1795; the Canadian Grand Trunk Railway was completed, 1914; the first London production of the musical show The Desert Song was staged, 1927; the World Heath Organisation was formed as a specialised UN agency, 1948; Dag Hammarskjold of Sweden was elected Secretary-General of the United Nations, 1953. Today is Easter Day and the Feast Day of St Aphraates, St Celsus or Ceallach of Armagh, St George the Younger, St Hegesippus, St Henry Walpole, St Herman Joseph and St John Baptist de la Salle.