1886 in literature
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The year 1886 in literature involved some significant literary events and new works.
- January - MLN: Modern Language Notes, an academic journal established with the intention of introducing European literary criticism into American scholarship, is founded at Johns Hopkins University.
- January 5 & 9 - Robert Louis Stevenson's horror novella Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is first published in New York and London respectively; within the first six months, close to 40,000 copies are sold.
- January 17 - The Anglo-Irish writers cousins Somerville and Ross first meet, at Castletownshend.
- February 22 - First performance of William Gillette's American Civil War drama Held by the Enemy, at the Criterion Theatre, Brooklyn (New York).
- May–July - Robert Louis Stevenson's Scottish historical novel Kidnapped is serialized in the London magazine Young Folks.
- May 7 - First performance of Percy Bysshe Shelley's verse drama The Cenci, A Tragedy, in Five Acts (written and printed in Italy, 1819) in England, a private production sponsored by the Shelley Society at the Grand Theatre, Islington, London, before an audience that includes Oscar Wilde, Robert Browning and George Bernard Shaw.
- September 9 - Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works signed.
- September 18 - The "Symbolist Manifesto" (Le Symbolisme) is published in French newspaper Le Figaro by Greek-born poet Jean Moréas, who announces that Symbolism is hostile to "plain meanings, declamations, false sentimentality and matter-of-fact description," and that its goal instead is to "clothe the Ideal in a perceptible form" whose "goal was not in itself, but whose sole purpose was to express the Ideal".
- November - Rudyard Kipling's Plain Tales from the Hills begin publication in the Lahore Civil and Military Gazette under the British Raj.
- December 10 - Emily Dickinson dies aged 55 of Bright's disease at the family home in Amherst, Massachusetts with fewer than a dozen of her 1,800 poems published and is buried under the self-penned epitaph "Called Back". She will later be regarded (with Walt Whitman) as one of the two quintessential nineteenth-century American poets.
- A Japanese adaptation of Shakespeare's play Hamlet as Hamuretto Yamato Nishiki-e is serialized in the newspaper Tokyo Eiri Shimbun.
- Louisa May Alcott - Jo's Boys
- Edmondo De Amicis - Heart (Cuore)
- Herman Bang - Ved Vejen (published in the collection Stille Eksistenser)
- Emilia Pardo Bazán - Los pazos de Ulloa ("The House of Ulloa", publication commenced)
- Leon Bloy - Disperato
- Rhoda Broughton - Doctor Cupid
- Frances Hodgson Burnett - Little Lord Fauntleroy
- Hall Caine - A Son of Hagar
- Mary Cholmondeley - The Danvers Jewels
- Wilkie Collins
- Marie Corelli - A Romance of Two Worlds
- Maxwell Gray (Mary Gleed Tuttiett) - The Silence of Dean Maitland
- Thomas Hardy - The Mayor of Casterbridge
- William Dean Howells - Indian Summer
- Fergus Hume - The Mystery of a Hansom Cab
- Henry James - The Bostonians
- Jerome K. Jerome - The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow
- Lie Kim Hok - Tjhit Liap Seng
- Pierre Loti - Pêcheur d'Islande
- Jules Mary - Roger la Honte
- Octave Mirbeau - Le Calvaire
- George A. Moore
- Bolesław Prus - The Outpost (Placówka; serialization completed & book publication)
- Robert Louis Stevenson
- August Strindberg - Getting Married (Giftas), vol. II (short stories)
- Leo Tolstoy - The Death of Ivan Ilyich (Смерть Ивана Ильича, Smert' Ivana Ilyicha)
- Jules Verne
- Eduard Vilde - Musta mantliga mees ("Man in a black coat")
- Auguste Villiers de l'Isle-Adam - Eva Futura
- Émile Zola - L'Œuvre
- Anton Chekhov - On the Harmful Effects of Tobacco
- Henrik Ibsen - Rosmersholm
- Alexander Kielland - Tre Par
- Leo Tolstoy - The Power of Darkness (not produced until 1902)
- William Butler Yeats - Mosada
- Edwin Abbott Abbott - The Kernel and the Husk
- Warren Felt Evans - Esoteric Christianity and Mental Therapeutics
- William Morris - A Dream of John Ball
- Emily Ruete - Memoirs of an Arabian Princess: An Autobiography
- Charles Taze Russell - The Plan of the Ages (later retitled The Divine Plan of the Ages; vol. 1 of Millennial Dawn, later retitled Studies in the Scriptures)
- A. E. Waite - The Mysteries of Magic
- January 14 – Hugh Lofting, English children's writer (died 1947)
- February 13 – Ricardo Güiraldes, Argentinian novelist and poet (died 1927)
- March 1 – Oskar Kokoschka, Austrian poet and artist (died 1980)
- April 1 – Brita von Horn, Swedish dramatist, novelist and theatre director (died 1983)
- May 16 – Vladislav Khodasevich, Russian poet and critic (died 1939)
- July 16 – Pierre Benoît, French novelist (died 1962)
- July 22 – Hella Wuolijoki, Estonian-born Finnish writer (died 1954)
- July 24 – Jun'ichirō Tanizaki (谷崎 潤一郎), Japanese novelist (died 1965)
- September 8 Siegfried Sassoon, English poet and memoirist (died 1967)
- September 20 Charles Williams, English poet, novelist and playwright (died 1945)
- October 4 – Lennox Robinson, Irish dramatist, poet and theatre producer (died 1958)
- November 1 – Hermann Broch, Austrian Modernist writer (died 1951)
- November 21 – Harold Nicolson, English author (died 1968)
- November 29 – Thomas Burke, English novelist and story writer (died 1945)
- December 5 – Rose Wilder Lane, American journalist and libertarian (died 1968)
- March 17 – Pierre-Jules Hetzel, French publisher (born 1814)
- April 9 – Joseph Victor von Scheffel, German poet and novelist (born 1826)
- May 4 – Eliza Lanesford Cushing, American Canadian dramatist, short story writer, and editor (born 1794)
- May 15 – Emily Dickinson, American poet (born 1830)
- May 17 – Erskine May, English constitutional theorist (born 1815)
- June 14 – Alexander Ostrovsky, Russian dramatist (born 1823)
- July 21 – Maximilian Wolfgang Duncker, German historian (born 1811)
- August 9 – Samuel Ferguson, Irish poet and antiquary (born 1810)
- October 22 – Matilda Jane Evans, English-born Australian novelist (born 1827)
- November 21 – Johannes Scherr, German novelist and critic (born 1817)
- November 22 – Mary Chesnut, American diarist (born 1823)
- December 10 – Emily Dickinson, American poet (born 1830)
- December 12 – Johan Nicolai Madvig, Danish philologist (born 1804)
- Oscar Wilde's review of the performance in Dramatic Review (May 15, 1886) in "Reviews".
- Collins, Paul (2009). The Book of William. New York: Bloomsbury. ISBN 978-1-59691-195-6.
- Benedetti, Jean. (1999). Stanislavski: His Life and Art. Revised edition. Original edition published in 1988. London: Methuen. ISBN 0-413-52520-1.
- "Memoirs of an Arabian Princess: An Autobiography". World Digital Library. 1888. Retrieved 2013-09-19.
- Savonarola, Newdigate Prize Poem, Recited in the Sheldonian Theatre Oxford, 30 June 1886, by R. L. Gales.