1774 in literature
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In poetry: 1771 1772 1773 -1774- 1775 1776 1777
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The year 1774 in literature involved some significant literary events and new works.
- February 22 - The English legal case of Donaldson v Beckett is decided in the House of Lords, denying the continued existence of a perpetual common law copyright and holding that copyright is a creation of statute and can be limited in its duration. This permits authors to claim copyright in their own works.
- September 29 - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's semi-autobiographical epistolatory novel The Sorrows of Young Werther (Die Leiden des jungen Werthers) (written January–March) is published anonymously in Leipzig, Germany; it is influential in the Sturm und Drang movement and Romanticism.
- Following destruction of the Schloss Weimar by fire, Carl August, Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach, forms a commission for its reconstruction directed by Johann Wolfgang Goethe.
- James Lackington begins in the London bookselling business.
- Johann Gottlob Theaenus Schneider becomes secretary to Richard François Philippe Brunck.
- Jeremy Bentham - The White Bull
- Henry Brooke - Juliet Grenville
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - The Sorrows of Young Werther
- Charles Johnstone - The History of Arsaces
- The Newgate Calendar
- Miles Peter Andrews - The Election
- John Burgoyne - The Maid of the Oaks
- George Colman the Elder - The Man of Business
- Charles Dibdin - The Waterman
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - Clavigo
- Thomas Hull - Henry the Second
- Hugh Kelly - The Romance of an Hour
- James Beattie - The Minstrel, volume 2
- William Dunkin - Poetical Works
- Oliver Goldsmith - Retaliation
- Richard Graves - The Progress of Gallantry
- William Mason - An Heroic Postscript to the Public
- Hannah More - The Inflexible Captive
- Samuel Jackson Pratt (as "Courtney Melmoth") - The Tears of A Genius, occasioned by the Death of Dr Goldsmith
- Henry James Pye - Farringdon Hill
- Mary Scott - The Female Advocate
- William Whitehead - Plays and Poems, by William Whitehead, Esq. Poet Laureat
- Giacomo Casanova – Istoria delle turbolenze della Polonia
- Joseph Cradock - Village Memoirs
- Martin Gerbert – De cantu et musica sacra
- Oliver Goldsmith
- The Grecian History
- An History of the Earth and Animated Nature
- Henry Home - Sketches of the History of Man
- Thomas Jefferson - A Summary View of the Rights of British America
- Samuel Johnson - The Patriot
- Antoine Simon Le Page Du Pratz - The History of Louisiana, or of the Western Parts of Virginia and Carolina; an English translation, in one volume, of Histoire de la Louisiane, published in 1758
- Joseph Priestley - Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air
- William Richardson - A Philosophical Analysis and Illustration of Some of Shakespeare's Remarkable Characters
- Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield - Letters to his Son
- Sugita Genpaku - Kaitai Shinsho ("New Text on Anatomy")
- Horace Walpole - A Description of Strawberry-Hill
- Thomas Warton - The History of English Poetry
- John Wesley - Thoughts upon Slavery
- January 1 - Pietro Giordani, translator, scholar and writer (died 1848)
- February 24 - Archibald Constable, publisher (died 1827)
- July 14 - Francis Lathom, gothic novelist and dramatist (died 1832)
- August 12 - Robert Southey, poet (died 1843)
- April 4 - Oliver Goldsmith, dramatist (born 1728/1730)
- April 28 - Gottfried Lengnich, historian (born 1689)
- September 17 - Abraham Langford, auctioneer and playwright (born 1711)
- October 16 - Robert Fergusson, poet (born 1750) (head injury)