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This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1942.
- January 1 – Book Production War Economy Agreement comes into force in the United Kingdom.
- 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.
- March 28 – Spanish poet Miguel Hernández dies of tuberculosis as a political prisoner in a prison hospital having scrawled his last verse on the wall.
- 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 – German novelist Thomas Mann moves to California.
- May 4 – French novelist André Gide moves to Tunis.
- May 8 – English novelist David Garnett marries, as his second wife, painter and writer Angelica Bell, the daughter of Garnett's lover Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell.
- 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 – English poet 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.
Children and young people
- 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
- March 28 – Daniel Dennett, American philosopher, writer and cognitive scientist
- 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 20 – Bob Graham, Australian children's writer and illustrator
- October 23
- October 24 – Frank Delaney, Irish-born novelist, journalist and broadcaster (died 2017)
- November 8 – Fernando Sorrentino, Argentine writer
- November 19 – Sharon Olds, American poet
- 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)
- February 18 – Henri Stahl, Romanian historian, short story writer, memoirist and stenographer (born 1877)
- 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)
- August 27 – Lev Nussimbaum, Russian and Azerbaijani novelist (gangrene, born 1905)
- 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)