Esperanto literature began before the official publication of the constructed language Esperanto; the language's creator, L. L. Zamenhof, translated poetry and prose into the language as he was developing it as a test of its completeness and expressiveness, and published several translations and a short original poem as an appendix to the first book on the language, Unua Libro. Other early speakers wrote poetry, stories and essays in the language; Henri Vallienne was the first to write novels in Esperanto. Except for a handful of poems, most of the literature from Esperanto's first twenty years or so is now regarded as of historical interest only.
Between the two World Wars, several new poets and novelists published their first works, including several recognized as the first to produce work of outstanding quality in the still-young language: Julio Baghy, Eŭgeno Miĥalski, Kálmán Kalocsay, Heinrich Luyken, and Jean Forge.
Harold Brown wrote several modern plays in Esperanto.
Over 25,000 books in Esperanto have been published, and the largest Esperanto book service at the World Esperanto Association offers over 4,000 books in its catalog. Over 100 original novels have been published in Esperanto, plus a larger number of novellas, short story collections, and poetry collections. Three major literary magazines, Fonto, Literatura Foiro and Beletra Almanako, appear regularly; some other magazines, such as Monato, also publish fiction.
The most comprehensive guide to the literature of the language is Geoffrey Sutton's Concise Encyclopedia of the Original Literature of Esperanto (728 pages), published under the auspices of the Esperanto-speaking Writers' Association by Mondial, New York, N.Y., 2008, ISBN 978-1-59569-090-6.
Some of the major figures of Esperanto literature:
- Marjorie Boulton
- William Auld
- Julio Baghy
- Kazimierz Bein (translations)
- Jorge Camacho
- Vasili Eroshenko
- Antoni Grabowski (mainly translations)
- Kálmán Kalocsay
- Nikolai Vladimirovich Nekrasov
- Mauro Nervi
- Claude Piron
- Frederic Pujulà i Vallès
- Baldur Ragnarsson
- Raymond Schwartz
- Vladimir Varankin
- Kitzo Hekotormos
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Esperanto literature.|
- The Esperanto Book, Chapter 9: "The Literary Scene" by Don Harlow. 1995.
- La Fenomeno Esperanto by William Auld. UEA, 1988.
- Concise Encyclopedia of the Original Literature of Esperanto by Geoffrey Sutton