1896 in literature
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In poetry: 1893 1894 1895 -1896- 1897 1898 1899
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The year 1896 in literature involved some significant literary events and new books.
- February 11 - Oscar Wilde's play Salome (written in 1891) is premièred (while Wilde is in prison), in French by Lugné-Poe's Théâtre de l'Œuvre company in Paris, perhaps at the Comédie-Parisienne.
- March 3 - Publication begins of the world's first magazine with an orientation to male homosexuality, Der Eigene, by Adolf Brand in Berlin.
- October 10 - The New York Times publishes its first book review section, which evolves to become The New York Times Book Review.
- October 17 - Anton Chekhov's play The Seagull is unsuccessfully premièred at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg (Russia).
- December 10 - Alfred Jarry's play Ubu Roi (first published this Spring in Le Livre d'art) is premièred by the Théâtre de l'Œuvre in Paris. The opening word, "Merdre!", triggers disturbances and the play is not performed again in the author's lifetime.
- Stephanus Jacobus du Toit's Die Koningin van Skeba, the first Afrikaans language novel, begins serialization in Ons Klyntji.
- Final volume of Theodore Roosevelt's The Winning of the West.
- Bernard Grenfell and Arthur Hunt of Queen's College, Oxford, begin excavation at Oxyrhynchus in Egypt, discovering the Oxyrhynchus Papyri.
- English twins twins Agnes S. Lewis and Margaret D. Gibson bring the treasures of the Cairo Geniza to the attention of Western scholars; notably the first Hebrew language text of the book of Ecclesiastes known in modern times.
- The Cheltenham typeface is designed by architect Bertram Goodhue and Ingalls Kimball, director of the Cheltenham Press in New York; and Akzidenz-Grotesk by the Berthold Type Foundry in Berlin.
- Herman Bang - Ludvigsbakke
- Max Beerbohm - The Works of Max Beerbohm
- R. D. Blackmore - Tales from the Telling House
- René Boylesve - Le Médecin des dames de néans
- Hall Caine - Jan the Icelander or Home, Sweet Home, A Lecture Story
- Joseph Conrad - An Outcast of the Islands
- Marie Corelli
- Edouard Estaunie - L' empreinte
- Antonio Fogazzaro - The Patriot
- Theodor Fontane - Effi Briest (in book form)
- Harold Frederic - The Damnation of Theron Ware
- Mary E. Wilkins Freeman - Madelon
- Jules Girardin - Les aventures de M. Colin-Tampon
- Higuchi Ichiyō - Takekurabe
- W. W. Jacobs - Many Cargoes (short story collection)
- Sarah Orne Jewett - The Country of the Pointed Firs
- "The Lord Commissioner" (John McCoy) - A Prophetic Romance: Mars to Earth
- Pierre Louÿs - Aphrodite: mœurs antiques
- William Morris - The Well at the World's End
- Arthur Morrison - A Child of the Jago
- Antala Staška - Blouznivci našich hor
- Robert Louis Stevenson (posthumous) - Weir of Hermiston (unfinished)
- Mark Twain - Tom Sawyer, Detective
- Paul Valéry - La Soirée avec M. Teste
- Jules Verne
- Mary Augusta Ward - Sir George Tressady
- H. G. Wells - The Island of Doctor Moreau
- Owen Wister - Red Men and White
- Émile Zola - Rome
- George Ade - Artie
- Anton Chekhov - The Seagull
- Henrik Ibsen - John Gabriel Borkman
- Alfred Jarry - Ubu Roi
- Theodor Herzl - Der Judenstaat
- Charles Monroe Sheldon - In His Steps: 'What Would Jesus Do?'
- Andrew Dickson White - A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom
- January 7 - Arnold Ridley, dramatist and actor (died 1984)
- January 14 - John Dos Passos, novelist (died 1970)
- February 12 - Dorothy Frooks, author and publisher (died 1997)
- February 18 - André Breton, French Surrealist poet and author (died 1966)
- April 16 - Tristan Tzara, Romanian-French poet and essayist (died 1963)
- May 3 - Dodie Smith, novelist and dramatist (died 1990)
- June 6 - R. C. Sherriff, dramatist (died 1975)
- July 19 - A. J. Cronin, novelist (died 1981)
- July 25 - Josephine Tey, crime writer (died 1952)
- August 28 - Liam O'Flaherty, novelist and short-story writer (died 1984)
- September 4 - Antonin Artaud, French theatre director (died 1948)
- September 24 - F. Scott Fitzgerald, American writer (died 1940)
- October 11 - Roman Jakobson, Russian linguistic theorist (died 1982)
- October 30 - Ruth Gordon, actress and screenwriter (Adam's Rib) (died 1985)
- January 8 - Paul Verlaine, French poet, 51
- January 17 - Lady Llanover, patron of the arts in Wales, 93
- June 8 - Jules Simon, French philosopher, 81
- July 1 - Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom's Cabin author, 85
- July 11 - Ernst Curtius, German historian, 81
- July 16 - Edmond de Goncourt, French critic and founder of the Prix Goncourt, 74
- August 17 - Mary Abigail Dodge, essayist, 63 (cerebral haemorrhage)
- October 3 - William Morris, poet, novelist and designer, 62
- October 8 - George du Maurier, Trilby author, 62
- November 26 - Coventry Patmore, poet, 73
- December 10 - Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Prize for Literature, 63 (cerebral haemorrhage)
- Raby, Peter (2008). "Introduction". The Importance of Being Earnest and Other Plays. Worlds Classics. Oxford University Press. p. xiii.
- Bristow, Joseph (2009). Oscar Wilde and Modern Culture: The Making of a Legend. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press. pp. 96, 106, 193. ISBN 978-0-8214-1837-6.
- The New York Times, October 10, 1896. Inaugural book review issue (announced on page 4, column 1)
- Hoffman, Adina; Cole, Peter (2011). Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza. Schocken Books. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-8052-4258-4.