July 12, 1536: Desiderius Erasmus, Dutch scholar and the first editor of the Greek New Testament, dies in Basel. One of the leading scholars who influenced the Protestant Reformation, he also wrote the influential In Praise of Folly. "Most holy was his living," said one observer, "most holy his dying" (see issue 34: Luther's Early Years).
December 9, 1608: English poet John Milton is born in London. Though most famous for his epic Paradise Lost, he also penned an exposition of Christian doctrine, a plan for Christian education, and various political writings.
December 9, 1840: Unable to go to China, David Livingstone sets sail from London as a missionary to southern Africa (see issue 56: David Livingstone).
December 9, 1843: The first Christmas cards—actually more like postcards—are created and sold for a shilling.