TODAY is the feast day Saint William Firmatus, who lived in Tours in the 11th century. A vision of the devil convinced him to abandon his profession as a doctor and live in solitude. He was kind but firm with animals and kept the peasants' fields free from hares and goats. He is said to have led one wild boar by the ear to a solitary cell, telling it to fast all night. By the morning the boar was cured of his bad habits.
1731: Daniel Defoe (above), Stoke Newington's most famous son, died aged 71. Because his family was Nonconformist, he was unable to attend Oxford or Cambridge, but was well-educated at Newington Green Academy. Remembered as a writer, his great love was trade and he was bankrupted more than once. As a Dissenter, he was imprisoned for political activities and developed an ironical journalistic style which kept his opponents confused. He also confounded both Whigs and Tories by supporting each in turn and, at different times, infiltrating the opposition. Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders and Roxana were all undertaken after the age of 59. Despite this late start, he is often described as the father of the English novel.
1898: Spain declared war on the United States.
1900: First issue of the Daily Express.
1916: Republican insurrection in Ireland, known as the Easter Rising.
BIRTHDAYS: Barbra Streisand, 52; Shirley Maclaine 60; Bridget Riley, painter 63.
(Photograph omitted)Reuse content