1956 in literature
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In poetry: 1953 1954 1955 -1956- 1957 1958 1959
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The year 1956 in literature involved some significant events and new works.
- February 2 - Eugene O'Neill's semi-autobiographical drama Long Day's Journey into Night (completed 1942) receives its posthumous world première at the Royal Dramatic Theatre, Stockholm, in Swedish (as Lång dags färd mot natt) in a production directed by Bengt Ekerot and starring Lars Hanson. The play's Broadway debut takes place at the Helen Hayes Theatre on November 7, shortly after its American premiere at the Shubert Theatre (New Haven).
- February 27 - English poet Ted Hughes and American poet Sylvia Plath meet in Cambridge, England.
- March 11 - U.S. release of Sir Laurence Olivier's film version of Shakespeare's Richard III simultaneously on NBC network television and as afternoon matinée screenings in movie theaters, giving it a television audience estimated at between 25 and 40 million, almost certainly the largest up to this date for a Shakespearean production.
- March 19 - Widowed English author Aldous Huxley marries Italian American film-maker and author Laura Archera at a drive-in wedding chapel in Yuma, Arizona.
- April 23 - C. S. Lewis and Joy Gresham make a civil marriage at Oxford register office.
- May 8 - First performance of John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger by the newly formed English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre in London. Alan Bates has his first major role as Cliff. The theatre's press release describes the dramatist as among the angry young men of the time.
- June 16 - Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath marry at St George the Martyr, Holborn in the London Borough of Camden.
- June - Nineteen-year-old Hunter S. Thompson is arrested as an accessory to robbery.
- July 4 - The National Library of Scotland's first purpose-built premises are opened in Edinburgh.
- July 8 - The drama series Armchair Theatre, produced by ABC Television for the ITV network in the United Kingdom, begins its run (1956–1968).
- July 29 - Arthur Miller marries Marilyn Monroe in White Plains, New York.
- August 14 - Iris Murdoch marries John Bayley at Oxford register office.
- September 14 - Harold Pinter marries Vivien Merchant in a civil ceremony at Bournemouth, having met while touring in repertory theatre.
- October - The Ladder becomes the first nationally distributed lesbian magazine in the United States.
- December - Martin Gardner begins his Mathematical Games column in Scientific American.
- Writing under the pseudonym of Emile Ajar, author Romain Gary becomes the only person ever to win the Prix Goncourt twice.
- Finished in 1952, Egyptian author Naguib Mahfouz's Cairo Trilogy (Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street), is first published.
- First book in Ed McBain's long-running 87th Precinct police procedural series, Cop Hater, is published in the United States under Evan Hunter's new pseudonym.
- Sixteen-year-old Michael Moorcock becomes editor of Tarzan Adventures.
- Jorge Luis Borges becomes a professor of English and American literature at the University of Buenos Aires.
New prose fiction
- Kingsley Amis - That Uncertain Feeling
- Poul Anderson - Planet of No Return
- Isaac Asimov - The Naked Sun
- James Baldwin - Giovanni's Room
- Saul Bellow - Seize the Day
- Pierre Berton - The Mysterious North
- Alfred Bester - The Stars My Destination (as Tiger! Tiger!)
- W. E. Bowman - The Ascent of Rum Doodle
- Pearl S. Buck - Imperial Woman
- Anthony Burgess - Time for a Tiger
- Albert Camus - The Fall (La Chute)
- John Dickson Carr
- Patrick Butler for the Defense
- Fear is the Same (as by Carter Dickson)
- Agatha Christie - Dead Man's Folly
- Arthur C. Clarke - The City and the Stars
- A. J. Cronin
- Antonio di Benedetto - Zama
- Philip K. Dick
- Gordon R. Dickson
- Alfred Döblin - Tales of a Long Night (Hamlet oder Die lange Nacht nimmt ein Ende)
- Friedrich Dürrenmatt - A Dangerous Game (Die Panne ("The breakdown") or Traps)
- Ian Fleming - Diamonds Are Forever
- Romain Gary - Les racines du ciel
- William Golding - Pincher Martin
- Henri René Guieu - Les Monstres du Néant
- Mark Harris - Bang the Drum Slowly
- Marguerite Henry - Misty of Chincoteague
- Frank Herbert - The Dragon in the Sea (serialization concluded & first book publication)
- Georgette Heyer - Sprig Muslin
- Kathryn Hulme - The Nun's Story
- Feri Lainšček - Petelinji zajtrk
- C. S. Lewis
- Rose Macaulay - The Towers of Trebizond
- Ed McBain - Cop Hater
- Naguib Mahfouz - Palace Walk (بين القصرين, Bein el-Qasrein, first of the Cairo Trilogy)
- Grace Metalious - Peyton Place
- Nicholas Monsarrat - The Tribe that Lost its Head
- Farley Mowat - Lost in the Barrens
- Agnar Mykle - The Song of the Red Ruby (Sangen om den røde rubin)
- Edwin O'Connor - The Last Hurrah
- Pier Paolo Pasolini - Ragazzi di vita
- Mervyn Peake - Boy in Darkness
- Mary Renault - The Last of the Wine
- Kenneth Roberts - Boon Island
- João Guimarães Rosa - The Devil to Pay in the Backlands (Grande Sertão: Veredas)
- Françoise Sagan - A Certain Smile (Un certain sourire)
- Samuel Selvon - The Lonely Londoners
- Ian Serraillier - The Silver Sword
- Irwin Shaw - Lucy Crown
- Khushwant Singh - Train to Pakistan
- Rex Stout
- Kay Thompson - Eloise
- A. E. van Vogt - The Wizard of Linn
- Heimito von Doderer - Die Dämonen: Nach der Chronik des Sektionsrates Geyrenhoff ("The Demons")
- Angus Wilson - Anglo-Saxon Attitudes
- P. G. Wodehouse - French Leave
- Kateb Yacine - Nedjma
- Eiji Yoshikawa - The Heike Story: A Modern Translation of the Classic Tale of Love and War (English translation of Shin Heike monogatari, author's retelling of The Tale of the Heike)
- Jean Anouilh - Pauvre Bitos, ou Le dîner de têtes ("Poor Bitos")
- Ferdinand Bruckner - The Fight with the Angel (Der Kampf mit dem Engel)
- José Manuel Castañón - Moletú-Volevá
- Friedrich Dürrenmatt - The Visit (Der Besuch der alten Dame)
- Max Frisch - Phiipp Hotz's Fury (Die Grosse Wut des Philipp Hotz)
- Hugh Leonard - The Birthday Party
- Saunders Lewis - Siwan
- Bruce Mason - The Pohutukawa Tree
- Arthur Miller - A View from the Bridge (revised version)
- Yukio Mishima - Rokumeikan
- Heiner Müller and Inge Müller - Der Lohndrücker ("The Scab", written)
- Eugene O'Neill - Long Day's Journey into Night
- John Osborne - Look Back in Anger
- Arnold Wesker - Chicken Soup with Barley (written)
- Allen Ginsberg - Howl and Other Poems
- Harry Martinson - Aniara
- Yevgeny Yevtushenko - Stantsiia Zima (Станция Зима, "Zima Station", translated as "Winter Station")
- Gerald Durrell - My Family and Other Animals
- A. J. Liebling - The Sweet Science
- Norman Mailer - The White Negro
- Octavio Paz - El arco y la lira
- Lobsang Rampa - The Third Eye
- January 2 – Storm Constantine, British science fiction and fantasy author
- January 8 – Jack Womack, American novelist
- March 7 – Andrea Levy, English novelist
- March 12 – Ruth Ozeki, American novelist and filmmaker
- March 23 – Steven Saylor, American historical novelist
- May 4 – David Guterson, American journalist and novelist
- May 18 – John Godber, English dramatist
- May 20 – Boris Akunin, Russian novelist and essayist
- June 9 – Patricia Cornwell, American crime novelist
- July 4 – Éric Neuhoff, French novelist
- July 11 – Amitav Ghosh, Bengali Indian novelist
- October 9 – Robert Reed, American science fiction author
- October 13 – Chris Carter, American screenwriter
- November 26 – John McCarthy, English journalist and hostage
- Unknown dates
- January 14 – Sheila Kaye-Smith, English novelist (born 1887)
- January 29 – H. L. Mencken, American journalist and English language scholar (born 1880)
- January 31 – A. A. Milne, English children's author, novelist and dramatist (born 1882)
- March 30 – Edmund Clerihew Bentley, English novelist and inventor of the clerihew (born 1875)
- May 20 – Max Beerbohm, English humorist (born 1872)
- June 22 – Walter de la Mare, English poet (born 1873)
- June 24 – Nicos Nicolaides, Greek writer (born 1884)
- July 8 – Giovanni Papini, Italian essayist, poet and novelist (born 1881)
- August 14 – Bertolt Brecht, German dramatist (born 1898)
- September 6 – Michael Ventris, English linguistic scholar (born 1922)
- December 13 – Arthur Grimble, Hong Kong-born English travel writer (born 1888)
- December 25 – Robert Walser, Swiss novelist writing in German (born 1878)
- Carnegie Medal for children's literature: C. S. Lewis, The Last Battle
- Duff Cooper Prize: Alan Moorehead, Gallipoli
- James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction: Rose Macaulay, The Towers of Trebizond
- James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography: St John Greer Ervine, George Bernard Shaw
- Newbery Medal for children's literature: Jean Lee Latham, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
- Nobel Prize for literature: Juan Ramón Jiménez
- Premio Nadal: José Luis Martín Descalzo, La frontera de Dios
- Prix Goncourt: Romain Gary for The Roots of Heaven
- Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Albert Hackett, Frances Goodrich, Diary of Anne Frank
- Pulitzer Prize for Fiction: MacKinlay Kantor - Andersonville
- Pulitzer Prize for Poetry: Elizabeth Bishop: Poems - North & South
- Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry: Edmund Blunden
- "Shubert Theater". CAPA New Haven. 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-31.
- Jones, Neal T., ed. (1984). A Book of Days for the Literary Year. London; New York: Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-500-01332-2.
- "Richard III Review". Screenonline (British Film Institute). Retrieved 2006-07-08.
- Huxley, Laura (1969). This Timeless Moment. ISBN 0-89087-968-0.
- 42, St Giles'. Hooper, Walter. C.S. Lewis: A Complete Guide to His Life and Works. books.google.com. p. 79. Retrieved 3 December 2011.
- Penguin Pocket On This Day. Penguin Reference Library. 2006. ISBN 0-14-102715-0.
- The Hutchinson Factfinder. Helicon. 1999. ISBN 1-85986-000-1.
- "Bute Collection for Scotland: Library Opening by The Queen". The Times (53575) (London). 1956-07-05. p. 12.