Anniversaries: Boxing Eve

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Born this day: (Guglielmus Xylander), scholar and translator, 1532; Thomas Gray, poet and scholar, 1716; Lord George Gordon, anti-Catholic agitator, 1751; Mary Fairfax Somerville, mathematician and writer on physics, 1780; Charles Babbage, computer pioneer, 1792; Albert Grisar, composer, 1808; 1829; Sir Norman Angell (Ralph Norman Angell Lane), author and journalist, 1874; Henry Valentine Miller, novelist, 1891; Mao Tse-tung, Chinese Communist leader, 1893; Richard Widmark, actor, 1914.

Died this day: Claude-Adrien Helvetius, philosopher and encyclopaedist, 1771; John Wilkes, politician and journalist, 1797; Mary Robinson, nee Darby ('Perdita'), actress and royal mistress, 1800; Pasquale Stanislao Mancini, statesman, 1888; Heinrich Schliemann, archaeologist, 1890; Sir Joseph Noel Paton, painter, 1901; Frederic Remington, artist and illustrator, 1909; Melvil Dewey, library classification system inventor, 1931; Ivor Bertie Gurney, composer, 1937; James Stephens, poet and novelist, 1950; Charles Pathe, film producer and director, 1957; Sydney Francis Barnes, cricketer, 1967; Harry S. Truman, 33rd US President, 1972; Jack Benny (Benjamin Kubelsky), comedian, 1974; Elsa Lanchester, actress, 1986; Sir Lennox Randal Francis Berkeley, composer, 1989.

On this day: King Stephen acceded to the throne of England, 1135; the Treaty of Pressburg was signed between France and Austria, making territorial settlements, 1805; the Decembrist army revolt in Russia was crushed, 1825; the independence of Belgium was agreed by the Allied powers, 1830; radium was discovered by Pierre and Marie Curie, 1898; the world's first feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, was shown in Melbourne, Australia, 1906; Jack Johnson, heavyweight boxer, became world champion after a match in Sydney, Australia, 1908; the Battle of the North Cape took place, when the German battle-cruiser Scharnhorst was sunk in the North Sea, 1943; Fidel Castro landed in Cuba, starting a revolution against the Batista regime, 1956; the Prince Charles Theatre, London, opened, 1962.

Sunday is Boxing Day (Handsel Day in Scotland) and the Feast Day of St Archelaus of Kashkar, St Dionysius, pope, St Stephen, St Tathai or Athaeus, St Vincentia Lopez and St Zosimus, pope.