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The year 1942 in literature involved some significant events and new books.
- February 20 - Jean Bruller's novella Le Silence de la mer ("The Silence of the Sea"), concerning resistance to the Nazi occupation of France, is issued clandestinely as the first publication of Les Éditions de Minuit in Paris under the pseudonym "Vercors". 100 copies are distributed from late summer; the remainder are destroyed by the occupying authorities.
- February 22 - Austrian-born novelist Stefan Zweig and his wife Lotte are found dead of barbiturate overdose in their home in Petrópolis, Brazil, leaving notes indicating their despair at the future of European civilization. The manuscript of his autobiography The World of Yesterday, posted to his publisher a day previously, is first published in Stockholm later in the year as Die Welt von Gestern.
- March - Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics are introduced in his short story "Runaround" published in Astounding Science-Fiction.
- March 1 - Robertson Davies begins a 13-year spell as editor of the Peterborough Examiner in Ontario.
- April 9 - The New York Times launches the national version of its influential New York Times Best Seller list.
- April 29 - The newspaper Asia Raja is first published in the Dutch East Indies under Japanese occupation; it will publish a number of literary works.
- May - Thomas Mann moves to California.
- May 4 - André Gide leaves France to live in Tunis.
- June 4 - Release of the film Mrs. Miniver, for which novelist James Hilton will share an Academy Award for Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) (4 March 1943).
- Autumn - Vasily Grossman is present at the Battle of Stalingrad as a reporter for the Soviet Army newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda; he later uses the experience in his novel Life and Fate (Жизнь и судьба, completed 1959).
- October - Keith Douglas takes part in the Second Battle of El Alamein (against orders).
- November 19 - Polish Jewish writer and artist Bruno Schulz is shot dead while walking through the "Aryan quarter" of his hometown, Drohobych, by a Gestapo officer.
New fiction books
- January 31 – Derek Jarman, English film director, writer and diarist (died 1994)
- February 1 – Terry Jones, Welsh comedian and writer
- February – David Williamson, Australian playwright
- March 2 – John Irving, American novelist and screenwriter
- April 1 – Samuel R. Delany, American novelist, essayist and critic
- April 4 – Kitty Kelley, American biographer and journalist
- April 20 – Arto Paasilinna, Finnish novelist and journalist
- May 6 – Ariel Dorfman, Argentine/Chilean novelist, playwright and essayist
- May 11 – Rachel Billington, English author
- August 2 – Isabel Allende, Chilean novelist
- August 7 – Garrison Keillor, American humorous writer and broadcaster
- September 1 – António Lobo Antunes, Portuguese novelist and physician
- October 23
- October 24 – Frank Delaney, Irish novelist, journalist and broadcaster
- November 8 – Fernando Sorrentino, Argentine writer
- November 24 – Craig Thomas, Welsh novelist (died 2011)
- December 6 – Peter Handke, Austrian novelist and playwright
- Unknown date - Mohamed Zafzaf, Moroccan novelist (died 2001)
- February 2 – Daniil Kharms, Russian poet, writer and dramatist (died in prison, born 1905)
- March 28 – Miguel Hernández, Spanish poet (died in prison, born 1910)
- April 24 – Lucy Maud Montgomery, Canadian novelist and children's writer (born 1874)
- May 11 – Sakutarō Hagiwara (萩原 朔太郎), Japanese poet (born 1886)
- May 20 – Nini Roll Anker, Norwegian novelist and playwright (born 1873)
- May 26 – Libero Bovio, Neapolitan dialect poet (born 1883)
- May 29 – Akiko Yosano (与謝野 晶子, Yosano Shiyo), Japanese poet and feminist (born 1878)
- May – Jakob van Hoddis (Hans Davidsohn) German poet (died in extermination camp, born 1887)
- June 30 – Léon Daudet, French writer and journalist (born 1867)
- July 1 – Peadar Toner Mac Fhionnlaoich, Irish writer in Irish (born 1857)
- August 17 – Irène Némirovsky, Russian-born French novelist (died in concentration camp, born 1903)
- September 26 – Oskar Kraus, Czech philosopher (born 1872)
- October 14 – Cosmo Hamilton, English dramatist and novelist (born 1870)
- October 20 – Friedrich Münzer, German classicist (born 1868)
- October 29 – Màrius Torres, Catalan Spanish poet (born 1910)
- November 4
- December 23 – Konstantin Balmont, Russian Symbolist poet and translator (born 1867)