1840 in literature
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The year 1840 in literature involved some significant new books.
- June - An amnesty to celebrate the accession of King Frederick William IV of Prussia results in novelist Fritz Reuter being freed from the fortress of Dömitz after two years' imprisonment on a charge of high treason.
- July 6 - Novelists Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray independently attend the hanging outside Newgate Prison in London of the murderer François Benjamin Courvoisier, who blames the influence of W. Harrison Ainsworth's Newgate novel Jack Sheppard (which concluded serialization in Bentley's Miscellany in February) for his crime.
- August 10 - Fortsas hoax: Bibliophiles gather in Binche, Belgium for the auction of 52 meticulously-catalogued unique books from the collection of the late Comte de Fortsas. The Count, the books and the auction prove to be entirely fictitious.
- The Percy Society is established in Britain as a text publication society to produce scholarly editions of early works in English.
- William Martin publishes the first edition of Peter Parley's Annual, a periodical for children in imitation of the earlier American works by Samuel Griswold Goodrich.
- W. Harrison Ainsworth - serializations
- Fredrika Wilhelmina Carstens - Murgrönan ("Ivy")
- Henry Cockton - Valentine Vox
- James Fenimore Cooper - The Pathfinder, or The Inland Sea
- Richard Henry Dana, Jr. - Two Years Before the Mast
- Charles Dickens - The Old Curiosity Shop (serialization begins within Master Humphrey's Clock)
- Alexandre Dumas, père - Otho the Archer
- 'Thomas Ingoldsby' (Richard Harris Barham) - The Ingoldsby Legends (collected in book form)
- Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald - Plague of Wine
- Mikhail Lermontov - A Hero of Our Time
- Frederick Marryat
- Harriet Martineau - The Hour and the Man
- Prosper Mérimée - Colomba
- Edgar Allan Poe - Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque
- William Makepeace Thackeray - Catherine
- Edward William Lane publishes an English version of The Arabian Nights
- Namiki Gohei III - Kanjinchō
- Christian Hebbel - Judith
- Andreas Munch - Donna Clara
- Jose Zorilla - El Zapatero y el Rey
- Victor Hugo - Les Rayons et les Ombres
- Mikhail Lermontov - Mtsyri ("The Novice")
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - "The Wreck of the Hesperus"
- Taras Shevchenko - Kobzar ("The Bard")
- Pierre-Joseph Proudhon - What is Property?
- Alexis de Tocqueville - Democracy in America (vol. 2)
- William Whewell - The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, founded upon their history
- January 18 – Henry Austin Dobson, English poet and essayist (died 1921)
- April 2 – Émile Zola, French novelist (died 1902)
- May 13 – Thomas Hardy, English novelist and poet (died 1928)
- September 2 – Giovanni Verga, Sicilian author (died 1922)
- September 27 – Rosa Nouchette Carey, English children's novelist (died 1909)
- November 29 – Rhoda Broughton, Welsh-born novelist (died 1920)
- January 6 – Frances Burney (Fanny Burney, Mme d'Arblay), English novelist and diarist (born 1752)
- February 4 – Angélique de Rouillé, Belgian letter-writer (born 1756)
- July 7 – Nikolai Stankevich, Russian philosopher and poet (born 1813)
- August 25 – Karl Leberecht Immermann, German novelist and dramatist (born 1796)
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Reuter, Fritz". Encyclopedia Americana.
- Sutherland, John (2012). The Dickens Dictionary. London: Icon. pp. 67–71. ISBN 978-184831-391-0. Thackeray writes the experience up as "Going to See a Man Hanged" in this month's issue of Fraser's Magazine (22: 150-158; repr. in The Works of William Makepeace Thackeray (1869) (London: Smith, Elder & Co.) 15:386); Dickens in The Daily News in February 1846.
- Klinefelter, Walter (1942). The Fortsas Bibliohoax. New York: Press of the Woolly Whale.
- Smith, George Gregory (1893). "Martin, William (1801-1867)". In Lee, Sidney. Dictionary of National Biography 36. London: Smith, Elder & Co. p. 302.
- Hauge, Ingard (1975). "Poetisk realisme og nasjonalromantikk". In Beyer, Edvard. Norges Litteraturhistorie (in Norwegian) 2. Oslo: Cappelen. pp. 318–325.