1891 in literature
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In poetry: 1888 1889 1890 -1891- 1892 1893 1894
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The year 1891 in literature involved some significant new books.
- January - The Strand Magazine is first published in London. On June 25 Arthur Conan Doyle's private consulting detective Sherlock Holmes appears in it for the first time, in the story "A Scandal in Bohemia" (issue dated July).
- January 31 - Henrik Ibsen's play Hedda Gabler (published in 1890) is first performed, at the Königliches Residenz-Theater in Munich (the city where it was written), with Clara Heese playing the lead. The first British performance is on April 20 at the recently reopened Vaudeville Theatre, London, with Elizabeth Robins as Hedda and co-directing.
- March 13 - Henrik Ibsen's play Ghosts (published in 1881) achieves a single London performance, its English-language stage première (at the Royalty Theatre). To evade the Lord Chamberlain's Office's censorship it has to be staged privately by the Independent Theatre Society, but still attracts strong criticism on moral grounds.
- April - Oscar Wilde's novel The Picture of Dorian Gray is first published in book format by Ward and Lock in London with the aphoristic preface originally published in the March 1 issue of The Fortnightly Review.
- May - William Morris establishes the Kelmscott Press as a private press at Hammersmith (London) and produces its first book, the first edition in book format of his fantasy novel The Story of the Glittering Plain.
- May 21 - Maurice Maeterlinck's play Intruder (L'Intruse) is premièred at Paul Fort's Theatre d'Art in Paris.
- c. Late June - In a meeting of decadent poets in London, Oscar Wilde is first introduced to Lord Alfred Douglas by Lionel Johnson at Wilde's Tite Street home.
- July 1 - International Copyright Act of 1891 comes into effect in the United States permitting foreign authors to register their works for copyright. On July 3, the first such work, the play Saints and Sinners by English author Henry Arthur Jones, is registered.
- July 4–December 26 - Thomas Hardy's novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles is serialized in expurgated form in the weekly illustrated newspaper The Graphic (London); in November the first (unexpurgated) book edition is published in London.
- September 4 - Ambrose Bierce dates the preface of Tales of Soldiers and Civilians for this day, although it will not actually be issued (in San Francisco) until 1892. It includes "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", one of his best known works.
- December - Thomas Hardy writes "The Son's Veto", which he regards as his best short story.
- December 7 - Maurice Maeterlinck's play The Blind (Les aveugles) is premièred.
- Tristan Bernard has his first work published in La Revue Blanche (which returns to Parisian publication in October) and adopts his pseudonym.
- Sophia Alice Callahan's Wynema, a Child of the Forest is published, the first work of fiction by a Native American woman in English.
- Approximate date - Edmund Clerihew Bentley, G. K. Chesterton and fellow pupils of St Paul's School, London, compose the first pseudo-biographical comic verses which become known as clerihews.
- Grant Allen - The Great Taboo
- J. M. Barrie - The Little Minister
- Mary Elizabeth Braddon - Gerard; or, The World, the Flesh and the Devil ("by the author of Lady Audley's Secret")
- Machado de Assis - Quincas Borba (translated as Philosopher or Dog?)
- Arthur Conan Doyle - The White Company
- George du Maurier - Peter Ibbetson
- Helen H. Gardener - Is This Your Son, My Lord? (in The Arena)
- André Gide - Les Cahiers d'André Walter
- George Gissing - New Grub Street
- Thomas Hardy
- J.-K. Huysmans - Là-bas
- Henry James - The Pupil (short story in Longman's Magazine)
- Jerome K. Jerome - Diary of a Pilgrimage
- Selma Lagerlöf - Gösta Berlings Saga
- Jean Lorrain - Sonyeuse (novella)
- Herman Melville - Timoleon
- Georges Ohnet - Dernier Amour
- Howard Pyle - Men of Iron
- José Rizal - El filibusterismo
- Jules Verne - Mistress Branican
- Oscar Wilde - Lord Arthur Savile's Crime and Other Stories
- Margaret L. Woods - Esther Vanhomrigh
- Charlotte M. Yonge
- Émile Zola - L'Argent
- Jacob Mikhailovich Gordin - Siberia
- Maurice Maeterlinck - Intruder (first production)
- Victorien Sardou - Thermidor
- Rosario de Acuña - El padre Juan
- Frank Wedekind - Spring Awakening (Frühlings Erwachen)
- Oscar Wilde
Main article: 1891 in poetry
- William Morris - Poems by the Way
- Marie Bashkirtseff - Lettres
- Black's Law Dictionary, 1st edition
- John Churton Collins - The Study of English Literature: a plea for its recognition and organization at the Universities
- Edmond de Goncourt - Utamaro
- Frederic G. Kenyon (ed.)
- Errico Malatesta - L'anarchia
- George W. E. Russell - The Right Honourable William Ewart Gladstone
- George Bernard Shaw - Quintessence of Ibsenism
- A. E. Waite - The Occult Sciences
- Oscar Wilde - Intentions
- January 7 – Zora Neale Hurston, American novelist (died 1960)
- January 15 – Osip Mandelstam, Russian poet (died 1938)
- February 10 – Elliot Paul, American writer (died 1958)
- February 13 – Kate Roberts, Welsh writer (died 1985)
- March 27 – Lajos Zilahy, Hungarian novelist and dramatist (died 1974)
- June 14 – Alexander Melentyevich Volkov, Russian novelist (died 1977)
- July 5 – Tin Ujević, Croatian poet (died 1955)
- August 1 – Edward Streeter, American humorist (died 1976)
- August 12 – C. E. M. Joad, English philosopher and broadcaster (died 1953)
- October 6 – John Metcalfe, English writer (died 1965)
- November 17 – Sigurd Christiansen, Norwegian novelist and dramatist (died 1947)
- December 10 – Nelly Sachs, German-Swedish poet, dramatist and Nobel Prize winner (died 1970)
- December 26 – Henry Miller, American novelist (died 1980)
- Unknown date – Arthur Graeme West, English military writer and poet (died 1917)
- February 3 – Élie Berthet, French novelist (born 1815)
- April 24 – Rebecca Agatha Armour, Canadian novelist (born 1845)
- July 17 – Jean Lombard, French novelist (born 1854)
- July 19 – Pedro Antonio de Alarcón, Spanish novelist (born 1833)
- August 12 – James Russell Lowell, American poet (born 1819)
- August 22 – Jan Neruda, Czech writer (born 1834)
- September 15 – Ivan Goncharov, Russian writer (born 1812)
- September 28 – Herman Melville, American novelist (born 1819)
- October 15 – Gilbert Arthur à Beckett, English writer (born 1837)
- November 10 – Arthur Rimbaud, French poet (cancer, born 1854)
- Penguin Pocket On This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 0-14-102715-0.
- "Theatreland Timeline". London Metropolitan Archives. Retrieved 2007-10-11.
- "English first performances". Ibsen.net. 2004-05-12. Retrieved 2013-02-08.
- Hyde, H. Montgomery (1984). Lord Alfred Douglas: a biography. London: Methuen. pp. 24–5. ISBN 0-413-50790-4.
- Vol. XLIV.
- Skilton, David, ed. (1978). "Note on the text". Tess of the D’Urbervilles. Penguin.
- "Tales of Soldiers and Civilians". The Ambrose Bierce Project. Retrieved 2014-05-28.
- Bentley, E. Clerihew (1982). "The History of the Clerihew". The First Clerihews. Oxford University Press. p. xv. ISBN 0-19-212980-5.
- Leavis, Q. D. (1965). Fiction and the Reading Public (2nd ed.). London: Chatto & Windus.