Thomas Browne, English physician and scholar, born today in 1605
Leigh Hunt, poet and essayist of the Romantic Age, born today in 1784, and they even have a road named in his honour, in Southgate, north London, though actually he was born at Eagle Hall, on the Chandos estate, much closer to Southate Green than to Southgate, and just a very short walk from one of the great oak trees of England, the still-just-about-alive Minchenden Oak
Cassius Marcellus Clay, abolitionist, born today in 1810
King John Lackland died, today in 1226, allegedly after eating too many peaches washed down with beer - for his part in the Magna Carta, click here
Jonathan Swift, Irish clergyman and satirist, died today in 1745
Napoleon's army retreated from Moscow, today in 1812. Tchaikovsky provided the torrents of cannons at the very end. Hitler failed to learn the historical lesson.
Marlon Brando's stage debut, today in 1944 - yes, but in which play, as which actor? And what did the critics say?
Mao Tse-Tung (or Ze-Dong if you insist) established the People's Republic of China, today in 1949
Somebody called Julius LaRosa sang "I'll Take Manhattan" before being fired, on-the-air, today in 1953. No need to ask what the critics said on that occasion.
Maurice Bishop, Prime Minister of Grenada, also got fired, today in 1983, using one of those Tchaikovskian cannons, so to speak: off-the-air, under house arrest, in a military coup - arranged by the Americans (see October 25).
The deaths of left-leaning politicians, who themselves came to power in a coup, can only be called tragic in the sense that all these political shananigans inevitably lead to tragedy for the ordinary folk, because it fucks up their country and they suffer as a consequence. Personal tragedy requires something more. The untenable co-mixture of genius and multiple sclerosis, for example, taking the life of one of the very great musicians, before she had even begun to express that genius fully. Jacqueline du Pré, cellist, dead today in 1987, at the age of just 42.
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