1681 in literature
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The year 1681 in literature involved some significant events.
- Nahum Tate's play The History of King Lear, adapted from Shakespeare's King Lear with a happy ending is first published and first performed at the Duke's Theatre, London, with Thomas Betterton (as Lear) and Elizabeth Barry as Cordelia. It is so well received that it supplants Shakespeare's original in every performance given until 1838.
- The Impartial Protestant Mercury is launched in London, one of several periodicals of the century with similar names.
New books 
- Chikkupadhyaya - Kamalachala Mahatmya
- Robert Knox - An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon
- Anne Lefèvre - Anacreon and Sappho
- Hiob Ludolf - Historia Aethiopica
- John Pordage - Treatise of Eternal Nature with Her Seven Essential Forms
New drama 
- Aphra Behn - The False Count and The Roundheads
- John Crowne - Thyestes
- Thomas d'Urfey - Sir Barnaby Whigg
- Edward Ravenscroft - The London Cuckolds
- Thomas Shadwell - The Lancashire Witches (adapted from Brome and Heywood's The Late Lancashire Witches)
- Nahum Tate - adaptations from Shakespeare
- Roger Boyle, 1st Earl of Orrery - Poems on Most of the Festivals of the Church
- John Dryden - Absalom and Achitophel (part 1)
- Andrew Marvell - Miscellaneous Poems (posthumously published)
- March 18 - Esther Johnson, the "Stella" of Jonathan Swift (died 1728)
- July 12 - Abigail Williams, much later a central character in Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible.
- November 17 - Pierre François le Courayer, Roman Catholic theologian (died 1776)
- January 16 - Olivier Patru, legal historian and translator (born 1604)
- May 25 - Pedro Calderón de la Barca, Spanish dramatist and poet (born 1600)
- July 8 - Georg Neumark, German poet and hymn-writer (born 1621)
- September 27 - Jacob Masen, German Jesuit writer (born 1606)
- Wells, Stanley (2000). "Introduction". King Lear. Oxford University Press. p. 63.