1766 in literature
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This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1766.
- Early – Frances Burney's first visit to the house of Samuel Crisp.
- May 30 – Opening of Theatre Royal, Bristol, England. Also this year in England, the surviving Georgian Theatre (Stockton-on-Tees) opens as a playhouse.
- July 1 – François-Jean de la Barre, a young French nobleman, is tortured and beheaded before his body is burnt on a pyre along with a copy of Voltaire's Dictionnaire philosophique nailed to his torso for the crime of not saluting a Roman Catholic religious procession in Abbeville and for other sacrileges including desecrating a crucifix.
- December 2 – Law on the Freedom of Printing abolishes censorship in Sweden and guarantees freedom of the press.
- The Drottningholm Palace Theatre is reopened as an opera house in Stockholm, Sweden, in its surviving form, designed by Carl Fredrik Adelcrantz.
- Heinrich Wilhelm von Gerstenberg begins publication of his Briefe über Merkwürdigkeiten der Litteratur in which he formulates the literary principles of Sturm und Drang.
- Anon. – Genuine Memoirs of the Celebrated Miss Maria Brown (erotica)
- Henry Brooke – The Fool of Quality
- Oliver Goldsmith – The Vicar of Wakefield
- Catherine Jemmat – Miscellanies
- Charlotte Lennox – The History of Eliza
- Susannah Minifie – The Picture
- Sarah Scott – The History of Sir George Ellison
- Pu Songling (died 1715) – Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio (聊齋誌異, Liaozhai Zhiyi; first surviving printed edition)
- Christoph Martin Wieland – Geschichte des Agathon
- Anna Williams – Miscellanies in Prose and Verse
- George Colman the Elder and David Garrick – The Clandestine Marriage
- Ramón de la Cruz – La pradera de San Isidro
- Thomas Francklin – The Earl of Warrick
- Elizabeth Griffith – The Double Mistake
- Thomas Hull – The Fairy Favour
- Mark Akenside – An Ode to the Late Thomas Edwards
- Christopher Anstey – The New Bath Guide
- James Beattie – Poems
- John Cunningham – Poems
- John Freeth – The Political Songster
- Oliver Goldsmith, ed. – Poems for Young Ladies
- Charles Jenner – Poems
- Henry James Pye – Beauty
- Heinrich Wilhelm von Gerstenberg – Gedicht eines Skalden
- Anon. – Biographium faemineum: the female worthies, or, Memoirs of the most illustrious ladies, of all ages and nations, who have been eminently distinguished for their magnanimity, learning, genius, virtue, piety, and other excellent endowments
- Francis Blackburne – The Confessional (theology of confession)
- Edmund Burke – A Short Account of a Late Short Administration
- Denis Diderot – Essais sur la peinture
- Immanuel Kant – Dreams of a Spirit-Seer
- Gotthold Ephraim Lessing – Laocoön
- Franz Mesmer – De planetarum influxu in corpus humanum (On the Influence of the Planets on the Human Body)
- Thomas Pennant – The British Zoology
- Pedro Rodríguez Mohedano and Rafael Rodríguez Mohedano – Historia literaria de España, desde su primera población hasta nuestros días
- Samuel Sharp – Letters from Italy
- Tobias Smollett – Travels through France and Italy
- Laurence Sterne – The Sermons of Mr Yorick vols. iii-iv
- George Stevens, ed. – Twenty of the Plays of Shakespeare
- Thomas Tyrwhitt – Observations and Conjectures Upon Some Passages of Shakespeare
- John Wesley – A Plain Account of Christian Perfection
- January 15 – Nathan Drake, English essayist and physician (died 1836)
- February 14 – Thomas Robert Malthus, English political scientist (died 1834)
- April 22 – Germaine de Staël (Anne Louise Germaine Necker), French novelist and saloniste (died 1817)
- May 11 – Isaac D'Israeli, English literary scholar (died 1848)