1972 in literature
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The year 1972 in literature involved some significant literary events and new books.
- May 22 – Cecil Day-Lewis, Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, dies at Lemmons, the home of novelists Kingsley Amis and Elizabeth Jane Howard on the northern edge of London which he has been sharing together with his wife and son, actors Jill Balcon and Daniel Day-Lewis, and (at weekends) Kingsley's writer son Martin Amis, amongst others.
- June 4 – Poet Joseph Brodsky is expelled from the Soviet Union.
- October 6–7 – New Staatstheater Darmstadt opened.
- October 8 – The play Sizwe Bansi is Dead is premiered at the Space Theatre (Cape Town) in South Africa before a multiracial audience. Playwright Athol Fugard directs with co-writers John Kani and Winston Ntshona in the lead roles.
- October 10 – Sir John Betjeman is appointed Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, the first knight ever to be appointed to the post.
New prose fiction
- Richard Adams – Watership Down
- Dritëro Agolli – The Rise and Fall of Comrade Zylo (Shkëlqimi dhe Rënja e Shokut Zylo, published in the magazine Hosteni)
- Jorge Amado – Teresa Batista Cansada da Guerra ("Tereza Batista: Home from the Wars")
- Martin Amis – The Rachel Papers
- Isaac Asimov – The Gods Themselves
- Italo Calvino – Invisible Cities
- Taylor Caldwell – Captains and the Kings
- John Dickson Carr – The Hungry Goblin: A Victorian Detective Novel
- Angela Carter – The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman
- Agatha Christie – Elephants Can Remember
- Brian Cleeve – Tread Softly in this Place
- Michael Crichton - The Terminal Man
- Roald Dahl – Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator
- Robertson Davies – The Manticore
- L. Sprague de Camp and Catherine Crook de Camp, editors – 3000 Years of Fantasy and Science Fiction
- R. F. Delderfield – To Serve Them All My Days
- Frederick Forsyth – The Odessa File
- Günter Grass – Aus dem Tagebuch einer Schnecke ("From the Diary of a Snail")
- Graham Greene – The Honorary Consul
- Peter Handke – A Sorrow Beyond Dreams
- James Herriot – All Creatures Great and Small
- Georgette Heyer – Lady of Quality
- George V. Higgins – The Friends of Eddie Coyle
- P. D. James – An Unsuitable Job for a Woman
- Dan Jenkins – Semi-Tough
- Thomas Keneally – The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith
- Carl Jacobi – Disclosures in Scarlet
- Ira Levin – The Stepford Wives
- Frank Belknap Long – The Rim of the Unknown
- Robert Ludlum – The Osterman Weekend
- John D. MacDonald – The Scarlet Ruse
- David McCullough – The Great Bridge
- Barry N. Malzberg – Beyond Apollo
- Vladimir Nabokov – Transparent Things
- Kenzaburō Ōe – The Day He Himself Shall Wipe My Tears Away (みずから我が涙をぬぐいたまう日, Mizukara Waga Namida o Nugui Tamau Hi)
- Chaim Potok – My Name is Asher Lev
- Mary Renault – The Persian Boy
- Arkady and Boris Strugatsky – Roadside Picnic
- Paul Theroux – Saint Jack
- Hunter S. Thompson – Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
- Irving Wallace – The Word
- Jacob Bronowski – The Ascent of Man
- L. Sprague de Camp – Great Cities of the Ancient World
- L. Sprague de Camp and Catherine Crook de Camp – Darwin and His Great Discovery'
- Carlos Castaneda – Journey to Ixtlan: The Lessons of Don Juan
- Michael Kammen – People of Paradox: An Inquiry Concerning the Origins of American Civilization
- Nena and George O'Neill – Open Marriage: A New Life Style for Couples
- Robert Newton Peck – A Day No Pigs Would Die
- Frances Yates – The Rosicrucian Enlightenment
- John Howard Yoder – The Politics of Jesus
- Alan Ayckbourn – Absurd Person Singular
- Samuel Beckett – Not I
- Hanay Geiogamah – Body Indian
- Eugène Ionesco – Macbett
- Vijay Tendulkar
- January 1 – Maile Meloy, novelist and short story writer
- February 11 – Noboru Yamaguchi, Japanese light novel and game scenario author
- September 6 – China Miéville, science fiction novelist
- September 19 – Cheryl B, American poet and spoken word artist
- unknown – Rabee Jaber, Lebanese novelist
- January 7 – John Berryman, American poet, 57 (suicide)
- February 2 – Natalie Clifford Barney, expatriate American writer and patron, 95
- February 15 – Edgar Snow, American journalist, 66 (cancer)
- March 4 – Richard Church, English poet and novelist, 78
- March 9 – Violet Trefusis, English writer and lover of Vita Sackville-West, 77
- March 11 – Fredric Brown, science fiction and mystery author, 65
- April 10 – Laurence Manning, science fiction author, 72
- May 22 – Cecil Day-Lewis, Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom, 68
- June 24 – R. F. Delderfield, novelist and historian, 60
- August 22 – Ernestine Hill, travel writer, 73
- September 21 – Henry de Montherlant, French essayist, novelist and dramatist, 77
- September 27 – S. R. Ranganathan, Indian librarian, 80
- November 1 – Ezra Pound, American poet, 87
- November 29 – Victor Bridges, English genre novelist, playwright and poet, 94
- December 10 – Mark Van Doren, poet, 78
- December 13 – L. P. Hartley, novelist, 76
- December 23 – Abraham Joshua Heschel, theologian, 65
- See 1972 Governor General's Awards for a complete list of winners and finalists for those awards.
- Prix Goncourt: Jean Carrière, L'Epervier de Maheux
- Prix Médicis French: Maurice Clavel, Le Tiers des étoiles
- Booker Prize: John Berger, G.
- Carnegie Medal for children's literature: Richard Adams, Watership Down
- Cholmondeley Award: Molly Holden, Tom Raworth, Patricia Whittaker
- Eric Gregory Award: Tony Curtis, Richard Burns, Brian Oxley, Andrew Greig, Robin Lee, Paul Muldoon
- James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction: John Berger, G
- James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography: Quentin Bell, Virginia Woolf
- American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for the novel, Eudora Welty
- Hugo Award: Philip José Farmer, To Your Scattered Bodies Go (1971)
- Nebula Award: Isaac Asimov, The Gods Themselves
- Newbery Medal for children's literature: Robert C. O'Brien, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
- Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Not awarded
- Pulitzer Prize for Fiction: Wallace Stegner – Angle of Repose
- Pulitzer Prize for Poetry: James Wright, Collected Poems
- Miles Franklin Award: Thea Astley, The Acolyte
- Premio Nadal: José María Carrascal, Grrovy
- Viareggio Prize: Romano Bilenchi, Il bottone di Stalingrado
- "From the archive, 11 October 1972: Betjeman won't let Poet Laureate role change him". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2012-12-05.
- "Nena O'Neill, 82, an Author of 'Open Marriage,' Is Dead". The New York Times.
- "Richard (Thomas) Church". Author and Book Info. Retrieved 2014-06-15.