1789 in literature
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This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1789.
- January 21 – William Hill Brown's anonymous sentimental epistolary novel The Power of Sympathy: or, The Triumph of Nature, usually considered the first American novel, is published in Boston.
- February 7 – Première of John Philip Kemble's production of Shakespeare's Coriolanus with himself in the title rôle and his sister Sarah Siddons as Volumnia, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in London.
- December – Première of Olympe de Gouges's abolitionist play Zamore et Mirza (written 1784; published 1788) as L'Esclavage des nègres ("Slavery of the negroes"); shut down after three performances.
- December 28 – Première of Anton Tomaž Linhart's comedy Županova Micka ("Micka, the Mayor's Daughter", an adaptation of Joseph Richter's Die Feldmühle), the first theatrical work in the Slovene language.
- Publication in Calcutta of Sir William Jones's Śacontalā, or the fatal ring: an Indian drama, a translation of Kālidāsa's 4th/5th century play Abhijñānaśākuntalam, the first translation of a classical Indian drama into a Western language.
- Robert Burns is appointed an exciseman in Scotland.
- Tomás António Gonzaga is arrested for complicity in the Inconfidência Mineira in Brazil.
- Friedrich Schiller is appointed professor of history and philosophy at Jena.
- The Children's Magazine, the first American periodical for children, is published in Hartford, Connecticut. It lasts only three months.
- Elizabeth Bonhôte – Darnley Vale, or, Emelia Fitzroy
- William Hill Brown – The Power of Sympathy.
- Richard Cumberland – Arundel
- Ann Radcliffe – The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne
- Friedrich Schiller – The Ghost-Seer (Der Geisterseher), publication concluded
- James White – Earl Strongbow
- François Guillaume Ducray-Duminil – Petit Jacques et Georgette, ou les Petits montagnards auvergnats (Little Jacques and Georgette, or the Little Mountain Dwellers of Auvergne)
- William Blake – Songs of Innocence
- William Lisle Bowles – Sonnets
- Erasmus Darwin – The Loves of the Plants
- Jeremy Bentham – An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation (publication year, printed in 1780)
- Olaudah Equiano – The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano
- Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès – What Is the Third Estate? (Qu'est-ce que le tiers-état?)
- January 11 – John Payne Collier, English Shakespearean critic and forger (died 1883)
- May 28 – Bernhard Severin Ingemann, Danish historical novelist, playwright and poet (died 1862)
- September 1 – Marguerite Gardiner, Countess of Blessington, Irish novelist and literary hostess (died 1849)
- November 15 – James Scholefield, English classical scholar (died 1853)
- September 15 – James Fenimore Cooper, American novelist (died 1851)
- December 28 – Catharine Sedgwick, American novelist (died 1867)
- January 21 – Baron d'Holbach, German-born French author, philosopher and encyclopedist (born 1723)
- January 23 – John Cleland, English novelist, biographer and translator (born 1709)
- May 21 – Sir John Hawkins, English writer and biographer (born 1719)
- June 28 – John Walters, Welsh poet (born 1760)
- October 19 – Lucretia Wilhelmina van Merken, Dutch poet and playwright (born 1721)