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This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1890.
- January – William Heinemann launches his Heinemann publishing business in London's Covent Garden with publication of Hall Caine's successful novel The Bondman.
- March 8 – Bram Stoker begins work on Dracula.
- c. June–September – Joseph Conrad, at this time serving as Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski with a Belgian steamer company, makes a journey on the Congo River which will inspire his novel Heart of Darkness (1899).
- July 13 – Ambrose Bierce's short story "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", one of his best known works, is first published, in The San Francisco Examiner.
- September – Arthur Morrison joins the staff of The Globe (London newspaper).
- October 19 – Death of Sir Richard Francis Burton in Trieste, following which his widow, Isabel, burns his journals, a revised translation of The Perfumed Garden and many more manuscripts and books, largely on account of their erotic nature.
- Leo Tolstoy's novella The Kreutzer Sonata, being suppressed in Russia, is published in Berlin in Russian, German, English and French, with other English versions issued in England and the United States. The United States Post Office Department prohibits mailing of newspapers containing serialized installments.
- Macmillan Publishers in the U.K. begin to supply on "net book" terms, i.e. no discount is available to consumers.
- January 9 – Karel Čapek, Czech author (died 1938)
- January 9 – Barbara Euphan Todd, English children's writer (died 1976)
- February 10 – Boris Pasternak Russian author (died 1960)
- March 11 – Vannevar Bush, American author (died 1974)
- May 15 – Katherine Anne Porter, American journalist and novelist (died 1980)
- May 18 – Zora Cross, Australian poet and novelist (died 1964)
- May 20 – Allan Nevins, American historian and journalist (died 1971)
- May 29 – Rhoda Power, English children's writer and broadcaster (died 1957)
- August 15 – Tsugi Takano (鷹野 つぎ), Japanese novelist (died 1943)
- August 20 – H. P. Lovecraft, American horror writer (died 1937)
- August 24 – Jean Rhys, Dominica, West Indies-born English novelist (died 1979)
- August 28 – Ivor Gurney, English war poet and composer (died 1937)
- August 31 (August 19 O.S.) – August Alle, Estonian writer (died 1952)
- September 6 – Brinsley MacNamara, born John Weldon, Irish novelist and playwright (died 1963)
- September 10 – Franz Werfel, Austrian author (died 1945)
- September 15 – Agatha Christie, English mystery writer (died 1976)
- September 24 – A. P. Herbert, English humorist and novelist (died 1971)
- October 1 – Blanche Oelrichs, American poet and playwright (died 1950)
- October 13 – Conrad Richter, American novelist (died 1968)
- November 25 – Isaac Rosenberg, English poet (killed in action 1918)
- December 2 – Károly Molter, Hungarian novelist, dramatist and academic (died 1981)
- January 2 – George Henry Boker, American poet and playwright (born 1823)
- June 11 – George Edward Brett, American publisher (born 1829)
- June 24 – Subba Row, Hindu Theosophist writer (cutaneous disease, born 1856)
- July 15 – Gottfried Keller, Swiss novelist (born 1819)
- August 9 – Eduard von Bauernfeld, Austrian dramatist (born 1802)
- September 18 – Dion Boucicault, Irish dramatist (born c. 1820)
- October 19 – Sir Richard Francis Burton, English explorer, translator and writer (born 1821)
- October 26 – Carlo Collodi, Italian children's writer (born 1826)
- November 1 – Júlio Ribeiro, Brazilian naturalist, novelist and grammarian (tuberculosis, born 1845)
- December 6 – Richard William Church, English biographer and cleric (born 1815)
- December 18 – Grigory Danilevsky, Russian historical novelist (born 1829)
- December 19 – Zénaïde Fleuriot, French novelist (born 1829)
- December 29 – Octave Feuillet, French novelist and dramatist (born 1821)