Events, birthdays and anniversaries for 13 December
1577: Francis Drake set out from Plymouth in the Pelican (later the Golden Hind) that was to take him round the world, returning on 26 September, 1580.
1789: Austrian Netherlands declared independence as Belgium.
1843: Six thousand copies of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol were sold on the first day of publication.
1847: Wuthering Heights, by Ellis Bell (Emily Brontë) was published, as was Agnes Grey, by Acton Bell (Anne Brontë).
1867: First-ever terrorist bomb outrage by Irish on mainland Britain when, attempting to rescue a confederate from Clerkenwell jail, London, Fenians blew up a row of houses, killing 12 and injuring 120 others.
1878: London’s Holborn Embankment illuminated by electric street lighting, the first in Britain.
1884: Installation of the first coin-operated weighing machine, patented by Percy Everitt.
1903: Ice-cream cones (or moulds) were patented by Italo Marcione of New York.
1916: About 9,000 Austro-Hungarian troops were killed in avalanche in the Alps.
1937: Japanese troops took Nanking City in China amid scenes of extreme brutality. It is estimated 40 million died in Japan’s occupation of Manchuria.
1944: Japanese suicide plane crashed into United States cruiser Nashville, killing 133 of its crew.
1967: Military government in Greece crushed counter-coup, and King Constantine fled to Rome with his family.
1973: A three-day working week was ordered by the government because of an Arab oil embargo and the coal miners’ slow-down.
1989: Nelson Mandela visited president FW de Klerk to discuss prospects for negotiating an end to South Africa’s racial conflict.
1990: ANC president Oliver Tambo arrived in South Africa after 30 years in exile.
2001: The Indian parliament in New Delhi was attacked by five Islamist terrorists, one wearing an explosive vest. Fifteen people were killed, including the terrorists.
2003: Saddam Hussein was captured near Tikrit.
2006: The Baiji, or Chinese river dolphin, was declared extinct.
2010: Experts from the University of Texas revealed that sleep-deprived bees were sloppier and less precise when at work.
Steve Buscemi, actor, 56; Brian Wilson, journalist, MP 1987-2005, 65, Howard Brenton, playwright, 71; John Francome MBE, jockey, racing commentator and author, 61; Anouska Hempel (Lady Weinberg), actress, hotelier and designer, 72; Prince Karim, Aga Khan, 77; Robert Lindsay, actor, 64; Andy Peebles, disc jockey, 65; Christopher Plummer, Canadian actor, 84; Taylor Swift, singer/songwriter, 24; Dick Van Dyke, actor, 88; Tom Verlaine, rock guitarist (Television), 64; Paula Wilcox, actress, 64.
Births: 1585 William Drummond of Hawthornden, poet; 1797 Heinrich Heine, poet; 1816 Ernst Werner von Siemens, engineer; 1906 Sir Laurens van der Post, writer, explorer, conservationist; 1913 Archie Moore, world light-heavyweight boxing champion; 1934 Richard Darryl Zanuck, film producer.
Deaths: 1466 Donatello, Italian sculptor; 1784 Doctor Samuel Johnson, writer, critic and lexicographer; 1944 Wassily Kandinsky, artist; 1983 Mary Renault (Mary Challans), novelist; 1998 Lord Grade, film and television producer; 2010 Richard Holbrooke, US diplomat.