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On this day: July 31

Today’s birthdays

Geraldine Chaplin, actress, 76

Jonathan Dimbleby, broadcaster, 76

Evonne Cawley, former tennis player, 69

Andrew Marr (pictured), journalist, broadcaster and political commentator, 61

Wesley Snipes, actor, 58

Norman Cook, record producer (aka Fat Boy Slim), 57

JK Rowling, author, 55

Dean Cain, actor, 54

Emilia Fox, actress, 46

It happened today…

1485: Morte D’Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory was published. He wrote the tale of knightly love and chivalry while in prison for armed assault and rape.

1635: British public inland postal services were established, with charges of two to eight pence.

1910: Wife-poisoner Dr Hawley Crippen was arrested on SS Montrose as it was entering Quebec. He had left his dismembered wife in a cellar at home and was travelling with Ethel le Neve, his mistress, who was dressed as a boy. Crippen was the first criminal to be captured by the use of wireless telegraphy.

Snared: Dr Hawley Crippen being lead down the gangplank in handcuffs after he was arrested on board the SS Montrose PICTURE: REX

1912: The world’s first film censorship law was passed in the United States. It was not against obscenity but the interstate transportation of films showing prize fights.

1919: The Weimar Republic was established in post-war Germany.

1950: Britain’s first self-service store, Sainsbury’s, opened in Croydon.

1956: At Old Trafford, England bowler Jim Laker took all 10 Australian wickets in the second innings for 53 runs, after a first innings haul of 9 for 37.

1964: Jim Reeves, American country singer, was killed in an air crash.

1965: Cigarette advertising on British TV was banned.

1975: Irish pop group the Miami Showband were ambushed and murdered by Protestant gunmen near Newry in Northern Ireland.

2010: A four-strong British rowing team smashed a 114-year-old record for crossing the North Atlantic. Their time — 43 days, 21 hours, 26 minutes and 48 seconds — knocked 11 days off the previous 55-day record set in 1896 by Norwegian fishermen George Harbo and Frank Samuelsen.

Quote of the day


‘I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet. It still feels a bit strange. We’ve just driven down from John O’Groats to Edinburgh and it’s taken us hours. I’m like “Oh my god, I can’t believe I ran that far”‘ — Elite long-distance runner Carla Molinaro (pictured) after breaking the women’s record for running from Land’s End to John O’Groats

Thought for the day

‘The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency’ — 26th US president,Theodore Roosevelt