1838 in literature
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This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1838.
- January 28 - The second night of Henrik Wergeland's satirical musical play Campbellerne ("The Campbells") in Christiania (Norway) provokes a riot.
- March - The Monthly Chronicle, "a national journal of politics, literature, science, and art", begins publication by Longman in London.
- October 19 - Poet Alfred de Musset is appointed librarian of the Ministry of the Interior in France.
- November 3 - The Times of India is founded as The Bombay Times and Journal of Commerce by Raobahadur Narayan Dinanath Velkar in Bombay.
- November 8 - French novelist George Sand begins an uncomfortable winter living with her lover, the ailing Polish-born composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin, on the Mediterranean island of Majorca in the abandoned Carthusian monastery of Valldemossa.
- Anna Maria Bunn's Gothic fiction The Guardian: a tale ("by an Australian") is published in Sydney. It is the first Australian novel printed and published in mainland Australia (although set in the author's native Ireland) and the first by a woman.
- George Palmer Putnam and John Wiley form the book publishing and retail firm of Wiley & Putnam in New York City. It is the forerunner of G. P. Putnam's Sons.
- Lady Charlotte Guest begins publication of her translation into English of the Welsh traditional tales known as the Mabinogion.
- Hans Christian Andersen - Fairy Tales Told for Children. New Collection. First Booklet (Eventyr, fortalte for Børn. Ny Samling. Første Hefte) comprising "The Daisy", "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" (Den standhaftige tinsoldat) and "The Wild Swans" (De vilde svaner)
- Hendrik Conscience - De Leeuw van Vlaanderen ("The Lion of Flanders")
- Charles Dickens
- William Nugent Glascock - Land Sharks and Sea Gulls
- Edward Howard (as "edited by the author of Peter Simple") - Rattling the Reefer
- Karl Leberecht Immermann - Münchhausen
- John Pendleton Kennedy - Rob of the Bowl
- Edgar Allan Poe
- George Sand
- Ann Sophia Stephens - Mary Derwent
- Robert Smith Surtees - Jorrocks' Jaunts and Jollities
- Dion Boucicault - A Legend of the Devil's Dyke
- Edward Bulwer - The Lady of Lyons
- Charles Dickens - The Lamplighter: a farce in one act (rejected for performance)
- Franz Grillparzer - Weh dem, der lügt!
- Victor Hugo - Ruy Blas
- Martins Pena - O Juiz de Paz na Roça ("The Roça Justice of the Peace")
New short stories
- Elizabeth Barrett Browning - The Seraphim and Other Poems
- Giacomo Casanova - Memoirs (final volume)
- Ralph Waldo Emerson - The Divinity School Address
- Samuel Smiles - Physical Education
- Baron Jules Dupotet de Sennevoy - Introduction to the Study of Animal Magnetism
- February 6 – Henry Irving, English actor and theatre manager (died 1905)
- June 26 – Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Bengali writer (died 1894)
- July 20 – Augustin Daly, American dramatist and theatre manager (died 1899)
- October 25 – Annie Hall Cudlip, English novelist, journalist and editor (died 1918)
- November 7 – Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, French Symbolist writer (died 1889)
- March 28 – Thomas Morton, English playwright (born 1764)
- April 12 – Johann Adam Möhler, German theologian (born 1796)
- July 12 – John Jamieson, Scottish lexicographer (born 1759)
- August 24 – Ferenc Kölcsey, Hungarian poet and critic (born 1790)
- November 10 (October 29 O.S.) – Ivan Kotliarevsky, Ukrainian writer (born 1769)
- December 17 – Józef Zawadzki, Polish publisher (born 1781)
- December 20 – Hégésippe Moreau, French poet (born 1810)
- December 26 – Ann Hatton, English novelist (born 1764)
- Unknown date – Amhlaoibh Ó Súilleabháin, Irish writer in Gaelic (born 1780)
- Amitav Ghosh's novel River of Smoke (2011) is set during this year.
- Diane Glancy's novel Pushing the Bear (1996) opens on the Trail of Tears during this year.
- Jason Goodwin's detective novel The Snake Stone (2007) is set in Constantinople during this year.