1709: Samuel Johnson, poet and lexicographer, was born in Lichfield, Staffordshire, the son of a bookseller. His dictionary, which took him eight years to compile, contained some eccentric explanations, such as "Oats: A grain which in England is generally given to horses but in Scotland supports the people."

1810: Chile revolted and gained independence from Spain.

1851: The New York Times was first published.

1905: Greta Garbo, the Swedish shop girl who became one of the most legendary film stars of all time, was born.

1948: Some 7,000 tons of food supplies and petrol were airlifted into Berlin by British and American aircraft, defying a three-month Russian blockade.

1949: The British pound was devalued by 30% by Chancellor of the Exchequer Sir Stafford Cripps, from 4.03 dollars to 2.80 dollars. On the same day, the milk ration was reduced to two pints a week per person.

1951: The Al Read Show started on BBC radio, with Jimmy Edwards and Pat Kirkwood. Read originated the catchphrases "Right monkey" and "You'll be lucky!"

1961: UN secretary-general Dag Hammarskjold was killed when his plane was sabotaged and crashed in the jungle in Northern Rhodesia.

1970: Rock star Jimi Hendrix died in an ambulance on the way to hospital, apparently suffering from a drug overdose.

1976: In China, 800 million citizens paid a last tribute to their leader Mao Tse-Tung at the beginning of a memorial service. For three minutes, one-fifth of the world's population stood in silence.

1981: France abolished execution by guillotine.

ON THIS DAY LAST YEAR: A biker who took selfies and pulled wheelies on a motorway before speeding at up to 117mph was jailed for eight months and given a 28-month driving ban.

BIRTHDAYS: Peter Shilton, former goalkeeper/football manager, 69; John Aldridge, former football manager and TV pundit, 60; John Fashanu, TV presenter and former footballer, 56; Darren Gough, former cricketer, 48; Jada Pinkett Smith, actress/singer, 47; James Marsden, actor, 45; Sol Campbell, footballer, 44; Dizzee Rascal, singer/rapper, 34.