1920 in literature
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The year 1920 in literature involved some significant events and new books.
- February 2 – Beyond the Horizon, Eugene O'Neill's first full-length play, opens at a special matinee at the Morosco Theatre in New York City – partly as an experiment on the part of the producer, partly to quiet the pleading of actor Richard Bennett who has demanded a chance to play the lead role. Reviewers hail the play and O'Neill becomes famous.
- February 27 – Inaugural meeting of the Bloomsbury Group's Memoir Club arranged by Mary MacCarthy in London.
- March 26 – This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald is published. It is a sensation, immediately establishing Fitzgerald as a writer and celebrity; the initial print run of 3,000 copies sells out in 3 days. Though the book's reputation will dim in later years, Dorothy Parker will recall that it was regarded as an innovative work when it first appeared.
- April – Hart Crane publishes his poem "My Grandmother's Love Letters" in The Dial. This is his first real step towards recognition as a poet.
- April 3 – F. Scott Fitzgerald marries Zelda Sayre in the rectory of St. Patrick's Cathedral (Manhattan).
- October – Agatha Christie's first novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, is published in the United States, introducing the long-running Belgian detective character, Hercule Poirot, in an English country house setting; it is first published in the U.K. on January 21, 1921.
- November 1 – Eugene O'Neill's play, The Emperor Jones, is staged at the Playwright's Theater in New York City with Charles Sidney Gilpin in the title role.
- November 9 – D. H. Lawrence's novel Women in Love is first published, in a limited subscribers' edition in the United States.
- December 23 – Arthur Schnitzler's play Reigen (La Ronde, 1900) first receives an authorized performance, in Berlin, receiving strong criticism on moral and antisemitic grounds.
- Publication in Prague of Karel Čapek's drama R.U.R: Rossum's Universal Robots, introducing the word Robot to the world.
- Publication in London of the Poems of English war poet Wilfred Owen (killed in action 1918) with an introduction by Siegfried Sassoon; only five of Owen's verses had been published during his lifetime, thus his work is introduced to many readers for the first time, including the 1917 poems "Anthem for Doomed Youth" and "Dulce et Decorum est"; the latter 28-line poem's horrifying imagery makes it one of the best-known condemnations of war ever written.
- Publication in Paris of the first volume of the Collection Budé, providing editions of Classical texts with parallel French translation, Plato's Hippias Minor (Hippias Mineur).
- Van Wyck Brooks publishes The Ordeal of Mark Twain, arguing that Twain's genius was perverted by the conditions and culture of late 19th-century America. This is the beginning of the reassessment of Mark Twain, who until this point had been regarded primarily as a humorous entertainer. The 1920s will force a reconsideration of many 19th-century writers, most importantly Herman Melville and Emily Dickinson.
- Sherwood Anderson – Poor White
- L. Frank Baum – Glinda of Oz
- E. F. Benson – Queen Lucia
- Marjorie Bowen – The Burning Glass
- Rhoda Broughton – A Fool in Her Folly
- Edgar Rice Burroughs – Tarzan the Untamed
- Emilio Carrere – The Tower of the Seven Hunchbacks
- Catherine Carswell – Open the Door!
- Agatha Christie – The Mysterious Affair at Styles (first Hercule Poirot mystery)
- Colette – Chéri
- Joseph Conrad – The Rescue
- William Aubrey Darlington – Alf's Button
- Miguel de Unamuno
- Tres novelas ejemplares y un prólogo ("Three Exemplary Novels and a prologue")
- Tulio Montalbán
- Alfred Döblin – Wallenstein
- John Dos Passos – Three Soldiers
- Hans Fallada – Der junge Goedeschal ("Young Goedeschal")
- F. Scott Fitzgerald – This Side Of Paradise
- Robert Frost – Mountain Interval
- Zona Gale – Miss Lulu Bett
- John Galsworthy – In Chancery and Awakening
- Edgar Jepson – The Loudwater Mystery
- D. H. Lawrence – Women in Love
- Sinclair Lewis – Main Street
- David Lindsay – A Voyage to Arcturus
- Hugh Lofting – The Story of Doctor Dolittle
- H. L. Mencken – Prejudices: Second Series
- E. Phillips Oppenheim – The Great Impersonation
- Dowell Philip O'Reilly – Five Corners
- Marcel Proust – The Guermantes Way (Le Côté de Guermantes I, first part of vol. 3 of In Search of Lost Time)
- Merari Siregar – Azab dan Sengsara
- Sigrid Undset – Kristin Lavransdatter (begins publication with Kransen ("The Bridal Wreath"))
- Mary Augusta Ward – Harvest
- Edith Wharton – The Age of Innocence
- Owen Wister – A Straight Deal
- Zara Wright – Black and White Tangled Threads
- Karel Čapek – R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots)
- Nikolai Evreinov – The Storming of the Winter Palace
- John Galsworthy – The Skin Game
- Georg Kaiser – Gas II
- Vladimir Mayakovsky – The Championship of the Universal Class Struggle
- Eugene O'Neill – The Emperor Jones
- Ernst Toller – Man and Masses
- Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz – They
Main article: 1920 in poetry
- Louis Aragon – Feu de joie
- Edmund Blunden – The Waggoner and Other Poems
- Robert Bridges – October and Other Poems
- Miguel de Unamuno – El Cristo de Velázquez
- T. S. Eliot – Poems (Twelve poems including "Lune de Miel" and "The Hippopotamus")
- Robert Frost – Miscellaneous Poems
- Aaro Hellaakoski – Me Kaksi
- Wilfred Owen – Poems
- Ezra Pound – Hugh Selwyn Mauberley
- Carl Sandburg – Smoke and Steel
- Siegfried Sassoon – Picture Show
- Edna St. Vincent Millay – A Few Figs From Thistles
- Georg Trakl – Der Herbst des Einsamen
- Valour and Vision: Poems of the War, 1914-1918 (anthology)
- Sigmund Freud – Beyond the Pleasure Principle (Jenseits des Lustprinzips)
- William Inge – The Idea of Progress
- Ernst Jünger – Storm of Steel (In Stahlgewittern)
- J. Thomas Looney – Shakespeare Identified
- Harold Monro – Some Contemporary Poets (1920)
- Frederick Jackson Turner — The Frontier in American History
- H. G. Wells – The Outline of History
- January 2 (probable date) – Isaac Asimov, Russian-born American science-fiction author and biochemist (died 1992)
- January 14
- January 22 – Philippa Pearce, English children's writer (died 2006)
- January 24 – Keith Douglas, English poet (died 1944)
- February 11 – Daniel F. Galouye, American science-fiction author (died 1976)
- February 12 – William Roscoe Estep, American historian and educator (died 2000)
- February 19 – Jaan Kross, Estonian writer (died 2007)
- February 21 – Ishigaki Rin (石垣 りん), Japanese poet (died 2004)
- February 29 – Howard Nemerov, American poet (died 1991)
- March 10 – Boris Vian, French novelist (died 1959)
- March 11 – D. J. Enright, English writer (died 2002)
- March 25 – Paul Scott, English novelist, playwright and poet (died 1978)
- April 5 – Arthur Hailey, English-born Canadian novelist (died 2004)
- April 11 – Marlen Haushofer, Austrian novelist (died 1970)
- May 8 – Sloan Wilson, American author and poet (died 2003)
- June 2 – Marcel Reich-Ranicki, Polish-born German literary critic (died 2013)
- June 8 – Gwen Harwood, Australian poet (died 1995)
- June 9 – Isobel English (Guesdon Jolliffe), English novelist (died 1994)
- June 18 – Rosemary Dobson, Australian poet
- June 20 – Amos Tutuola, Nigerian writer (died 1997)
- July 12 – Pierre Berton, Canadian author (died 2004)
- August 3 – P. D. James, English crime novelist (died 2014)
- August 4 – John Figueroa, Jamaican poet (died 1999)
- August 9 – Tormod Skagestad, Norwegian poet, novelist and playwright (died 1997)
- August 16 – Charles Bukowski, American writer (died 1994)
- August 18 – Harbhajan Singh, Punjabi poet and critic (died 2002)
- August 21 – Christopher Robin Milne, English writer and bookseller (died 1996)
- August 22 – Ray Bradbury, American science-fiction writer (died 2012)
- October 8 – Frank Herbert, American science-fiction writer (died 1986)
- October 15 – Mario Puzo, American author of The Godfather (died 1999)
- November 23 – Paul Celan, Romanian poet (died 1970)
- December 10 – Clarice Lispector, Ukrainian-born Brazilian novelist (died 1977)
- December 15 – Albert Memmi, Tunisian writer in French
- December 20 – Väinö Linna, Finnish novelist (died 1992)
- January 2 – Paul Adam, French novelist (born 1862)
- January 4 – Benito Pérez Galdós, Spanish novelist (born 1843)
- January 18 – Giovanni Capurro, Italian poet (born 1825)
- February 8 – Richard Dehmel, German poet (born 1863)
- February 29 – A. H. Bullen, English editor and publisher (born 1857)
- March 15 – Edith Holden, English diarist and illustrator (drowned, born 1871)
- March 26 – Mary Augusta Ward (Mrs. Humphry Ward), Tasmanian-born English novelist (born 1851)
- May 11 – William Dean Howells, American writer (born 1837)
- May 21 – Eleanor H. Porter, American novelist (born 1868)
- June 5
- June 14 – Max Weber, German political economist (born 1864)
- June 27 – Adolphe Basile Routhier, Canadian poet (born 1839)
- September 29 – José Domingo Gómez Rojas, Chilean poet (meningitis, born 1896)
- October 19 – John Reed, American journalist (born 1887)
- November 1 – Walter Bradford Woodgate, English boating writer and oarsman (born 1841)
- November 9 – Alberto Blest Gana, Chilean novelist (born 1830)
- November 22 – Manuel Pérez y Curis, Uruguayan poet (born 1884)
- November 24 – Alexandru Macedonski, Romanian poet, novelist and dramatist (born 1854)
- December 18 – Matthías Jochumsson, Icelandic poet, playwright and translator (born 1835)
- James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction: D. H. Lawrence, The Lost Girl
- James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography: G. M. Trevelyan, Lord Grey of the Reform Bill
- Nobel Prize for Literature: Knut Hamsun
- Pulitzer Prize for the Novel: no award given
- Pulitzer Prize for Poetry: no award given
- Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Eugene O'Neill, Beyond the Horizon
- Rosenbaum, S. P. (2014). The Bloomsbury Group Memoir Club. London: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 9781137360359.
- Asimov, Isaac (September 1979). "The Vocabulary of Science Fiction". Asimov's Science Fiction.
- Zunt, Dominik (2004). "Who did actually invent the word "robot" and what does it mean?". Karel Čapek (1890-1938). Retrieved 2011-12-06.
- Auster, Paul, (ed.) (1982). The Random House Book of Twentieth-Century French Poetry, with Translations by American and British Poets. New York: Random House. ISBN 978-0-394-52197-8.