1839 in literature
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This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1839.
- January 21 – Åbo Svenska Teater in Åbo (Turku), Finland, opens with a performance of Gubben i Bergsbygden.
- May 31 – Important British constitutional case of Stockdale v Hansard is launched when publisher John Joseph Stockdale sues for libel after John Roberton's pseudo-medical work On Diseases of the Generative System (1811) is declared in a parliamentary report to be indecent.
- September – The first known London production of Love's Labour's Lost after Shakespeare's era opens at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden, with Madame Vestris as Rosaline.
- Washington Irving begins contributing regularly to The Knickerbocker, and will publish thirty new pieces in the magazine — including "The Creole Village," in which he will coin the phrase "the almighty dollar" — through March 1841.
- Mikhail Lermontov publishes first two parts of A Hero of Our Time (Герой нашего времени, Geroy nashevo vremeni) in Otechestvennye Zapiski. The novel comes to be considered a pioneering classic of Russian psychological realism.
- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a late 14th-century Middle English alliterative romance by the 'Pearl Poet', is first published complete, in Syr Gawayne: a collection of ancient romance-poems by Scottish and English authors relating to that celebrated knight of the Round Table edited by Frederic Madden for the Bannatyne Club.
- George Bell establishes the London publisher George Bell & Sons as an educational bookseller in Bouverie Street.
- W. Harrison Ainsworth takes over editorship of Bentley's Miscellany from Charles Dickens at the end of the year. Until April serializations of their respective novels Jack Sheppard and Oliver Twist have been running simultaneously in the magazine.
- W. Harrison Ainsworth – Jack Sheppard
- Carl Jonas Love Almqvist – Det går an (It's Acceptable, translated as Sara Videbeck and the Chapel)
- Honoré de Balzac
- Nicolaas Beets (as Hildebrand) – Camera Obscura
- Fredrika Bremer – Hemmet eller familje-sorger och fröjder
- Sarah Burney – The Romance of Private Life: The Renunciation and The Hermitage
- Charles Dickens – Nicholas Nickleby (serialization completed and in book form)
- Alexandre Dumas - Captain Pamphile
- Maurits Hansen – Mordet paa Maskinbygger Roolfsen (The Murder of Engine-maker Roolfsen)
- Frederick Marryat – Diary in America
- Harriet Martineau – Deerbrook
- Ellen Pickering
- Nan Darrell, or The Gypsy Mother
- The Fright
- Edgar Allan Poe
- George Sand
- Jules Sandeau – Marianna
- Stendhal – The Charterhouse of Parma (La Chartreuse de Parme)
- Philip Meadows Taylor – Confessions of a Thug
- Cirilo Villaverde – Cecilia Valdés
Children and young people
- Edward Bulwer – Richelieu
- Felicia Hemans – De Chatillon
- George Sand – Gabriel
- Juliusz Słowacki – Balladyna
- Philip James Bailey (anonymous) – Festus
- Cláudio Manuel da Costa (posthumous) – Vila Rica
- Théodore Hersart de la Villemarqué (compiler) – Barzaz Breiz (Breton Ballads)
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – Voices of the Night
- Louis Blanc – L'Organisation du travail
- Charles Darwin – The Voyage of the Beagle
- Mrs William Ellis – The Women of England: their social duties and domestic habits
- Michael Faraday – Experimental Researches in Electricity
- George W. M. Reynolds – Grace Darling; or, the Heroine of the Ferne Islands
- Jared Sparks – Life of Washington
- John Tallis – Tallis Directory
- January 7 – Ouida, English novelist (died 1908)
- January 26 – Mary Ann Maitland, Scottish-born Canadian author (died 1919)
- February 1 – James Herne, American dramatist (died 1901)
- February 22 – Francis Pharcellus Church, American editor and publisher (died 1906)
- March 16 – Sully Prudhomme, French poet and essayist, winner of the first Nobel Prize in Literature (died 1907)
- April 18 – Henry Kendall, Australian poet (died 1882)
- June 21 – Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, Brazilian poet and novelist (died 1908)
- June 22 – Clara Augusta Jones Trask, American dime novelist (died 1905)
- July 5 – Helen Stuart Campbell, American author, editor, and reformer (died 1918)
- July 11 – Kate Sanborn, American author and essayist (died 1917)
- August 4 – Walter Pater, English writer (died 1894)
- August 9 – Gaston Paris, French writer and scholar (died 1903)
- August 25 – Martha E. Cram Bates, American writer, journalist, and editor (died 1905)
- September 10 – Charles Sanders Peirce, American philosopher (died 1914)
- November 4 – S. M. I. Henry, American author, evangelist, and reformer (died 1900)
- November 16 – William De Morgan (sic), English novelist and potter (died 1917)
- November 29 – Ludwig Anzengruber, Austrian dramatist (died 1889)
- December 12 – Charlotte Frances Wilder, American writer (died 1916)
- December 23 – Lucinda Barbour Helm, American author, editor, and activist (died 1897)
- January 16 – Edmund Lodge, English biographer and writer on heraldry (born 1756)
- April 11 – John Galt, Scottish novelist and entrepreneur (born 1779)
- April 13 – Robert Millhouse, English weaver poet (born 1788)
- April 22 – Thomas Haynes Bayly, English poet, songwriter and dramatist (born 1797)
- May 9 – Joseph Fiévée, French journalist, novelist, essayist and playwright (born 1767)
- May 17 – Archibald Alison, Scottish author (born 1757)
- May 21 – José María Heredia y Campuzano, Cuban poet (born 1803)
- June 26 – Winifred Gales, English novelist and memoirist (born 1761)
- August 3 – Dorothea von Schlegel, German novelist and translator (born 1764)
- September 4 – Hermann Olshausen, German theologian (born 1796)
- September 28 – William Dunlap, American dramatist (born 1766)
- October 22 – Alexander Odoevsky, Russian poet (born 1802)
- Unknown dates
- Amitav Ghosh's novel Flood of Fire (2015) is set during the First Opium War.
- Judith Rossner's novel Emmeline (1980) is based on events of this year.
- Jules Verne's An Antarctic Mystery (Le Sphinx des glaces, 1897) follows on from Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838).
- Loveland, Ian (2000). Political Libels: A Comparative Study. Oxford: Hart Publishing. pp. 21–22. ISBN 1-84113-115-6.
- "Covent-Garden Theatre". The Times. London. 1839-10-01. p. 5.
The manner in which it was played last night destroyed the brilliancy completely, and left a residuum of insipidity...
- Turville-Petre, Thorlac (1977). The Alliterative Revival. Woodbridge: Brewer. pp. 126–129. ISBN 0-85991-019-9.
- Burrow, J. A. (1971). Ricardian Poetry. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul. pp. 4–5. ISBN 0-7100-7031-4.
- Birley, Robert (1962). "Philip James Bailey, Festus". Sunk Without Trace: some forgotten masterpieces reconsidered. London: Rupert Hart-Davis. pp. 172–208.