1881 in literature
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|... 1871 . 1872 . 1873 . 1874 . 1875 . 1876 . 1877 ...
1878 1879 1880 -1881- 1882 1883 1884
... 1885 . 1886 . 1887 . 1888 . 1889 . 1890 . 1891 ...
In poetry: 1878 1879 1880 -1881- 1882 1883 1884
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The year 1881 in literature involved some significant literary events and new works.
- February 13 - The first issue of the feminist newspaper La Citoyenne is published by Hubertine Auclert in France.
- March - Ambrose Bierce contributes to the weekly satirical San Francisco magazine The Wasp (becoming editor by July) and resumes his column "Prattle" and the series of cynical definitions which he first calls The Devil's Dictionary.
- April - William Poel's production of Shakespeare's Hamlet at St. George's Hall, London, reverts to the first quarto text and avoids elaborate scene changes.
- July 29 - Law on the Freedom of the Press passed in France.
- August 17 - The Pushkin Prize is established by the Russian Academy of Sciences.
- October 1 - Robert Louis Stevenson's children's pirate adventure novel Treasure Island begins serialization in the British magazine Young Folks as Treasure Island; or, The mutiny of the Hispaniola by "Captain George North".
- The first of the three-volume History of Woman Suffrage, is published by Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.
- Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy's historical drama Tsar Boris (Царь Борис, published 1870) receives its première, posthumously, at Anna Brenko's Pushkin Theater in Moscow.
- The literary review and movement La Jeune Belgique is founded by poet Max Waller (Léopold Warlomont).
- William Harrison Ainsworth - Stanley Brereton
- Mary Elizabeth Braddon - Asphodel
- Robert Buchanan - God and the Man
- Bankim Chatterjee - Rajsimha
- Wilkie Collins - The Black Robe
- Machado de Assis - The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas (Memorias Posthumas de Braz Cubas)
- Antonio Fogazzaro - Malombra
- Anatole France - Sylvestre Bonnard
- Thomas Hardy - A Laodicean
- Henry Honor (anonymously) - The Great Romance
- Joris-Karl Huysmans - En menage
- Robert G. Ingersoll - The Great Infidels
- Henry James - The Portrait of a Lady
- Roden Noël - A Little Child's Monument
- Margaret Oliphant - Harry Joscelyn
- "Jack Saul" - The Sins of the Cities of the Plain
- Joseph Henry Shorthouse - John Inglesant
- Giovanni Verga - I Malavoglia (translated as The House by the Medlar-Tree)
- Jules Verne - Eight Hundred Leagues on the Amazon
- Mary Augusta Ward - Milly and Olly
- Jefferson Davis - The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government
- Warren Felt Evans - The Divine Law of Cure
- Hermann Schultz - Die Lehre von der Gottheit Christi
- Alfred Percy Sinnett - The Occult World
- January 9
- January 18 – Gaston Gallimard, French publisher (died 1975)
- February 10 – Boris Zaytsev, Russian novelist and dramatist (died 1972)
- February 13 – Eleanor Farjeon, English children's writer and poet (died 1965)
- March 17 – Kristian Elster, Norwegian novelist, literary historian, theatre critic and biographer, son of Kristian Manstrup Elster
- March 25 – Mary Webb, English writer (died 1927)
- August 1 – Rose Macaulay, English novelist, biographer and travel writer (died 1958)
- August 10 – Witter Bynner, American poet and scholar (died 1968)
- October 15 – P. G. Wodehouse, English-born American writer (died 1975)
- October 30 – Elizabeth Madox Roberts, American novelist and poet (died 1941)
- January 12 – George Robert Aberigh-Mackay, Anglo-Indian author (tetanus, born 1848)
- January 28 – Fyodor Dostoevsky, Russian author (born 1821)
- April 19 – Benjamin Disraeli, English writer, politician (born 1804)
- April 24 – James Thomas Fields, American publisher (born 1817)
- July 1 – Hermann Lotze, German philosopher (born 1817)
- July 12 – Caroline Leakey, English poet and novelist (born 1827)
- October 13 – Mary Emma Ebsworth, English dramatist (born 1794)
- December 13 – August Šenoa, Croatian novelist and critic (born 1804)
- Private consulting detective Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson first meet at Bart’s Hospital, London, prior to the events commencing on March 4 narrated in Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet (1887).
- Swaim, Don. "Ambrose Bierce Chronology". The Ambrose Bierce Site. Retrieved 2014-02-25.
- Thompson, Ann and Neil Taylor, eds. 2006. Hamlet. The Arden Shakespeare, third ser. Volume one. London: Arden. ISBN 1-904271-33-2. pp 36–39
- Екатерина Варкан. История Пушкинских премий в России. — Октябрь. — № 5, 2007 (Russian)
- "1881 - Treasure Island". National Library of Scotland. Retrieved 2014-02-18.
- "Max Waller". Encyclopædia Britannica.
- Carver, Stephen. The Life and Works of the Lancashire Novelist William Harrison Ainsworth, 1805–1882. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen Press, 2003.
- Beyer, Edvard; Moi, Morten. "Kristian Elster". Store norske leksikon (in Norwegian). Oslo: Kunnskapsforlaget. Retrieved 16 October 2010.
- Stanley J. Kunitz and Howard Haycraft, editors; Twentieth Century Authors, A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Literature, (Third Edition). New York, The H.W. Wilson Company, 1950 (865-66).
- Dictionary of Indian Biography. Haskell House, 1906.