1851 in literature
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The year 1851 in literature involved some significant new books.
- January 1 - The Georgian theatre company gives its first performance, under the direction of Giorgi Eristavi.
- June 5 - Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel Uncle Tom's Cabin begins serialization in the American abolitionist weekly The National Era.
- June - While waiting to cross the English Channel on honeymoon, Matthew Arnold probably begins to compose the poem "Dover Beach".
- November 14 - Herman Melville's novel Moby-Dick; or, The Whale is published in full, in a single volume, for the first time, by Harper & Brothers in New York, having been previously issued on October 18 as The Whale in an abridged 3-volume edition by Richard Bentley in London.
- December 24 - A fire at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., destroys 35,000 books, about two–thirds of the collection.
- Marian Evans, the future George Eliot, is appointed assistant editor of the Westminster Review by John Chapman and meets G. H. Lewes.
- Victor Hugo goes into exile from France, initially to Brussels.
- Albertus Willem Sijthoff establishes his own publishing business at Leiden.
- Jules Amédée Barbey d'Aurevilly - Une Vieille Maîtresse ("An Old Mistress")
- George Borrow - Lavengro
- Mathilde Fibiger - Clara Raphael, Tolv Breve ("Clara Raphael, Twelve Letters")
- Elizabeth Gaskell - Cranford (serialization begins)
- Nathaniel Hawthorne - The House of the Seven Gables
- Gottfried Keller - Der Grüne Heinrich
- Sheridan Le Fanu
- Ghost Stories and Tales of Mystery
- The Watcher
- Herman Melville - Moby-Dick
- John Ruskin - The King of the Golden River
- Eugène Marin Labiche with Marc Michel - Un chapeau de paille d'Italie ("An Italian Straw Hat")
- Eugène Scribe - Bataille de Dames
- Matthew Arnold - Dover Beach (probably completed; not published until 1867)
- Heinrich Heine - Romanzero
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow - The Golden Legend
- Hans Christian Andersen - In Sweden
- Edward Creasy - The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World
- Catherine Dickens (as Lady Maria Clutterbuck) - What Shall We Have for Dinner?
- Henry Mayhew - London Labour and the London Poor (collected in book form)
- Francisco de Paula Mellado - Enciclopedia moderna
- John Ruskin - The Stones of Venice, vol 1
- February 21 - Ernst von Hesse-Wartegg, Austrian writer and traveller (died 1918)
- June 11 - Mary Augusta Arnold ("Mrs Humphry Ward"), Tasmanian-born British novelist (died 1920)
- June 29 - Jane Dieulafoy, French archaeologist, explorer, novelist and journalist (died 1916)
- September 14 - H. E. Beunke, Dutch writer (died 1925)
- February 1 - Mary Shelley, novelist and wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley, 53 (suspected brain tumour)
- February 23 - Joanna Baillie, Scottish poet, dramatist, 88
- May 23 - Richard Lalor Sheil, dramatist and journalist, 59
- August 1 - Harriet Lee, novelist, 94
- August 10 - Heinrich Paulus, German theologian, 89
- September 14 - James Fenimore Cooper, historical novelist, 61
- October 12 - Augusta Leigh, half-sister and lover of Lord Byron, 68
- December 19 - Henry Luttrell, politician and society poet, about 86
- date unknown - Vanchinbalyn Gularans, Mongolian poet, about 30
- Published 1867. Allott, Kenneth, ed. (1965). The Poems of Matthew Arnold. London; New York: Longman Norton. p. 240. ISBN 0-393-04377-0.
- Maas, Norbert Maria Hubert (1996). "Altyt Waek Saem: De drukker-uitgever A.W. Sijthoff (1829-1913)". Nieuw Letterkundig Magazijn (in Dutch) 14. pp. 35–41. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
- Bennett, Betty T. Introduction to Selected Letters, xxvii.