1940 in literature
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In poetry: 1937 1938 1939 -1940- 1941 1942 1943
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The year 1940 in literature involved some significant literary events and new books.
- July - Jean-Paul Sartre is taken prisoner by the Germans. Léopold Sédar Senghor also becomes a prisoner of war this year.
- July 26 - Release of the movie adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice with Aldous Huxley as a screenwriter.
- December - Penguin Books launches its Puffin Books children's imprint in the United Kingdom with publication of "Puffin Picture Book No. 1", War on Land, by James Holland.
- December 21 - F. Scott Fitzgerald dies of a heart attack aged 44 in the apartment of Hollywood gossip columnist Sheilah Graham leaving his novel The Love of the Last Tycoon unfinished.
- December 29 - Heavy bombing causes the Second Great Fire of London, destroying the premises of Simpkin, Marshall, the U.K.'s largest book wholesaler, and of many publishers also in the Paternoster Row area of the city, including Longman, together with around 25,000 volumes in the Guildhall Library's stores; altogether Britain's worst book burning. On dawn patrol, Douglas Blackwood, a fighter pilot at this time, is able to see his family's publishing business, William Blackwood, burning.
- Canadian writer Robertson Davies joins the Old Vic repertory company in the U.K.
- Pridi Banomyong - The King of the White Elephant
- Giorgio Bassani - Una città di pianura
- Henry Bellamann - King's Row
- Adolfo Bioy Casares - The Invention of Morel
- Godfried Bomans - Erik, of het Kleine Insectenboek
- Karin Boye - Kallocain
- Edgar Rice Burroughs - Synthetic Men of Mars
- Dino Buzzati - The Tartar Steppe (Il deserto dei Tartari)
- Erskine Caldwell - Trouble in July
- Taylor Caldwell - The Earth is the Lord's
- Joyce Carey - Charley is My Darling
- John Dickson Carr
- Willa Cather - Sapphira And The Slave
- Raymond Chandler - Farewell, My Lovely
- Agatha Christie
- Walter Clark - The Ox-bow Incident
- James Daugherty - Daniel Boone
- Georges Duhamel - Les Maîtres
- Mircea Eliade
- Graham Greene - The Power and the Glory
- Ernest Hemingway - For Whom the Bell Tolls
- Georgette Heyer - The Corinthian
- Anna Kavan - Asylum Piece (short stories)
- Arthur Koestler - Darkness at Noon
- Dorothy Kunhardt- Pat the Bunny
- Carson McCullers - The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
- John O'Hara - Pal Joey
- Raymond Postgate - Verdict of Twelve
- John Cowper Powys - Owen Glendower
- Arthur Ransome - The Big Six
- Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings - When the Whippoorwill
- Clayton Rawson -- The Headless Lady
- Michael Sadleir - Fanny by Gaslight
- Mikhail Sholokov - The Don Flows Home to the Sea
- Dr. Seuss - Horton Hatches the Egg
- C. P. Snow - George Passant (first of the Strangers and Brothers series)
- Christina Stead - The Man Who Loved Children
- Rex Stout
- Phoebe Atwood Taylor
- Dylan Thomas - Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog (short stories)
- Richard Wright - Native Son
- Agatha Christie - Peril at End House
- Jean Cocteau - Le Bel Indifférent
- Artturi Järviluoma - Pohjalaisia
- Lawrence Riley - Return Engagement
- George Shiels - The Rugged Path
- Emlyn Williams - The Corn Is Green
- "Cato" (Michael Foot and others) - Guilty Men
- G. H. Hardy - A Mathematician's Apology
- C. S. Lewis - The Problem of Pain
- Arthur Marder - The Anatomy of British Sea Power: a history of British naval policy in the pre-Dreadnought era, 1880-1905
- A. A. Milne - War with Honour
- Malcolm Muggeridge - The Thirties
- Edmund Wilson - To the Finland Station
- January 14 - Sir Trevor Nunn, theatre director
- February 4 - George A. Romero, horror film writer, producer, director
- March 16 - Bernardo Bertolucci, Italian writer and film director
- March 28 - Russell Banks, novelist
- April 15 - Jeffrey Archer, novelist
- May 7 - Angela Carter, English magical realist author (died 1992)
- May 8 - Peter Benchley, novelist (died 2006)
- May 13 - Bruce Chatwin, novelist and travel writer (died 1989)
- May 24 - Joseph Brodsky, poet (died 1996)
- May 28 - Maeve Binchy, novelist (died 2012)
- July 17 - Tim Brooke-Taylor, comedy writer and actor
- October 20 - Robert Pinsky, poet
- December 5 - Peter Pohl, novelist
- January 5 - Humbert Wolfe, poet and epigrammist (born 1885)
- January 27 - Isaak Babel, Russian journalist and dramatist (born 1894; executed by firing squad)
- February 11 - John Buchan, Scottish novelist (born 1875)
- February 29 - E. F. Benson, novelist, biographer, memoirist and short story writer (born 1867)
- March 7 - Edwin Markham, poet (born 1852)
- March 10 - Mikhail Bulgakov, Russian novelist and playwright (born 1891)
- March 16
- June 10 - Marcus Garvey, journalist and publisher
- June 20 - Charley Chase, screenwriter
- August 7 - T. O'Conor Sloane, editor of Amazing Stories (born 1851)
- September 26 - W. H. Davies, poet and Supertramp (born 1871)
- December 21 - F. Scott Fitzgerald, novelist (born 1896)
- December 22 - Nathanael West, screenwriter and satirist (born 1903)
- Carnegie Medal for children's literature: Kitty Barne, Visitors from London
- James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction: Charles Morgan, The Voyage
- James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography: Hilda F. M. Prescott, Spanish Tudor: Mary I of England
- Newbery Medal for children's literature: James Daugherty, Daniel Boone
- Nobel Prize for literature: not awarded
- Pulitzer Prize for Drama: William Saroyan, The Time of Your Life
- Pulitzer Prize for Poetry: Mark Van Doren: Collected Poems
- Pulitzer Prize for the Novel: John Steinbeck - The Grapes of Wrath
- King's Gold Medal for Poetry: Michael Thwaites
- Boulé, Jean-Pierre (2005). Sartre, Self-formation, and Masculinities. Berghahn Books. p. 114. ISBN 1-57181-742-5.
- "Penguin Archive Timeline". University of Bristol. Retrieved 2013-10-30.
- Sutherland, John; Fender, Stephen (2011). "29 December". Love, Sex, Death & Words: Surprising Tales from a Year in Literature. London: Icon. ISBN 978-184831-247-0.
- Royle, Trevor (1997-03-07). "Obituary: Wing Cdr Douglas Blackwood". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2014-04-11.