1951 in literature
This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1951.
If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
—Opening line of The Catcher in the Rye
- January – American writer Flannery O'Connor is diagnosed with lupus at age 25.
- January 12 – Janie Moore, C. S. Lewis's "adoptive mother", dies.
- March 12 – Hank Ketcham's Dennis the Menace appears for the first time in 16 United States newspapers.
- March 17 – First appearance of Dennis the Menace comic strip in The Beano (U.K.)
- Spring – Arthur C. Clarke's short story "The Sentinel", which will form a basis for the film 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and subsequent novel, is published as "Sentinel of Eternity" in the only issue ever produced of the American science fiction and fantasy pulp magazine 10 Story Fantasy.
- May – Joe Orton enters the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London where he meets his lover and eventual murderer Kenneth Halliwell.
- July 16 – J. D. Salinger's coming-of-age story The Catcher in the Rye is published by Little, Brown and Company in New York City.
- September 6 – William S. Burroughs shoots and kills his common-law wife Joan Vollmer in Mexico City.
- E. E. Cummings and Rachel Carson are awarded Guggenheim Fellowships.
- Janet Frame's first book, The Lagoon and Other Stories, is published by the Caxton Press (New Zealand) (dated 1952) while the author is a patient in Seacliff Lunatic Asylum at Seacliff, New Zealand. It is awarded the Hubert Church Memorial Award, at this time one of New Zealand's most prestigious literary prizes, resulting in the cancellation of Frame's scheduled lobotomy.
- Béla Hamvas completes his epic novel Karnevál. Because he is at this time prohibited from publishing by the regime in Hungary, it will not be published until 1985, 17 years after his death.
- Frank Hardy is tried and cleared of criminal libel in Australia for his self-published roman à clef about corruption in Melbourne life, Power Without Glory (1950).
- Anthony Powell produces the first novel of his A Dance to the Music of Time duodecalogy.
- Performance of medieval mystery plays revived at York and Chester in England.
- Théâtre national de la Colline in Paris founded.
New prose fiction
- Sholem Asch – Moses
- Isaac Asimov
- Samuel Beckett – Molloy
- Ray Bradbury – The Illustrated Man
- Gill Hunt – Galactic Storm
- Taylor Caldwell – The Balance Wheel
- Morley Callaghan – The Loved and the Lost
- Truman Capote – The Grass Harp
- L. Sprague de Camp
- John Dickson Carr – The Devil in Velvet
- Camilo José Cela – The Hive (La Colmena)
- Agatha Christie
- Arthur C. Clarke – Prelude to Space
- Julio Cortázar – Bestiario
- Robertson Davies – Tempest-Tost
- August Derleth – The Memoirs of Solar Pons
- Heimito von Doderer – Die Strudlhofstiege, oder Melzer und die Tiefe der Jahre ("The Strudelhof Steps")
- Owen Dodson – Boy at the Window
- Daphne du Maurier – My Cousin Rachel
- Friedrich Dürrenmatt – Suspicion
- Howard Fast – Spartacus
- Per Anders Fogelström – Sommaren med Monika
- Henri René Guieu – Le Pionnier de l'atome
- Graham Greene – The End of the Affair
- John Hawkes – The Beetle Leg
- Robert A. Heinlein – The Puppet Masters
- Elizabeth Jane Howard and Robert Aickman – We Are for the Dark: Six Ghost Stories
- James Jones – From Here to Eternity
- A. M. Klein – The Second Scroll
- Wolfgang Koeppen – Tauben im Gras ("Pigeons on the Grass")
- Kalki Krishnamurthy
- Poiman Karadu
- Ponniyin Selvan (பொன்னியின் செல்வன், "The Son of Ponni"; publication begins)
- Louis L'Amour – The Rustlers of the West Fork
- C. S. Lewis – Prince Caspian
- John Masters – Nightrunners of Bengal
- François Mauriac – Le Sagouin
- James A. Michener – Return to Paradise
- Nancy Mitford – The Blessing
- Nicholas Monsarrat – The Cruel Sea
- Alberto Moravia – The Conformist (Il conformista)
- Robert Pinget – Entre Fantoine et Agapa
- Anthony Powell – A Question of Upbringing
- Sax Rohmer – Sumuru
- J. D. Salinger – The Catcher in the Rye
- Ernst von Salomon – The Questionnaire (Der Fragebogen)
- Ooka Shohei – Fires on the Plain (野火, Nobi)
- Vern Schneider – The Teahouse of the August Moon
- Cardinal Spellman – The Foundling
- John Steinbeck – The Log from the Sea of Cortez
- Rex Stout
- William Styron – Lie Down in Darkness
- Elizabeth Taylor – A Game of Hide and Seek
- Phoebe Atwood Taylor – Diplomatic Corpse
- Josephine Tey – The Daughter of Time
- Anne de Tourville – Jabadao
- Herman Wouk – The Caine Mutiny
- John Wyndham – The Day of the Triffids
- Frank Yerby – A Woman Called Fancy
- Marguerite Yourcenar – Memoirs of Hadrian (Mémoires d'Hadrien)
- Eugène Ionesco – The Lesson (La Leçon)
- Maryat Lee – Dope!
- A. A. Milne – Before the Flood
- Lawrence Riley – Kin Hubbard
- Jean-Paul Sartre – The Devil and the Good Lord (Le Diable et le Bon Dieu)
- John Van Druten – I Am a Camera
- John Whiting
- A Penny for a Song
- Saint's Day (first performance)
- Tennessee Williams – The Rose Tattoo
- Clark Ashton Smith – The Dark Chateau
- Frank O'Hara – A City Winter and Other Poems
- Iona and Peter Opie – The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes
- Rachel Carson – The Sea Around Us
- Nirad C. Chaudhuri – The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian
- Thomas B. Costain – The Magnificent Century (Second book in the Plantagenet or Pageant of England Series)
- Daphne du Maurier (ed.) – The Young George du Maurier: a selection of his letters 1860–67
- Jacquetta Hawkes – A Land
- Dumas Malone – Jefferson and the Rights of Man
- Vladimir Nabokov – Speak, Memory
- Lou Andreas-Salomé – Lebensrückblick (posthumously published)
- January 1 – Ashfaq Hussain, Urdu poet
- January 13 – Nigel Cox, New Zealand novelist
- January 22 – Steve J. Spears, Australian actor, singer, and playwright (died 2007)
- February 13 – Katja Lange-Müller, German novelist
- February 17 – Jagadish Mohanty, Indian novelist (died 2013)
- March 4 – Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, South Korean-born novelist and artist (died 1982)
- March 12 – Susan Musgrave, Canadian poet and children's writer
- April 5 – Guy Vanderhaeghe, Canadian author
- April 19 – Pierre Lemaitre, French suspense novelist
- May 3 – Tatyana Tolstaya, Russian novelist, essayist and TV presenter
- May 9
- June 15 – Amir Barghashi, Iranian-born Swedish actor and dramatist
- June 22 – Rosario Murillo, Nicaraguan poet and political activist
- August 20 – Greg Bear, American science fiction writer
- August 24 – Orson Scott Card, American science fiction writer
- September 20 – Javier Marías, Spanish novelist
- September 29 – Andrés Caicedo, Colombian novelist and cinema critic (suicide 1977)
- October 3 – Bernard Cooper, American writer
- October 12 – Peter Flannery, English dramatist
- October 17 – Clark Parent, Haitian novelist, musician and politician
- December 6 – Tomson Highway, Canadian and Cree playwright, novelist and children's author
- December 8 – Bill Bryson, American travel writer
- December 22 – Charles de Lint, Canadian fantasy author and Celtic folk musician
- Unknown date – Carol Birch, English novelist
- January 7 – René Guénon, French philosophical writer (born 1886)
- January 29 – James Bridie, Scottish dramatist (born 1888)
- February 7 – Sinclair Lewis, American novelist (born 1885)
- February 13 – Lloyd C. Douglas, American author (born 1877)
- February 16 – Henri-René Lenormand, French dramatist (born 1882)
- February 19 – André Gide, French author (born 1869)
- February 28 – Vsevolod Vishnevsky, Russian dramatist and screenwriter (born 1900)
- March 25 – Oscar Micheaux, African American author, film director and producer (born 1884)
- April 3 – Henrik Visnapuu, Estonian poet and dramatist (born 1890)
- April 29 – Ludwig Wittgenstein, Austrian philosopher (born 1889)
- June 10 – Håkon Evjenth, Norwegian children's writer (born 1894)
- June 11 – W. C. Sellar, Scottish humorist (born 1898)
- August 14 – William Randolph Hearst, American newspaper tycoon (born 1863)
- September 2 – Antoine Bibesco, Romanian dramatist (born 1878)
- September 7 – F. G. Loring, English writer and naval officer (born 1869)
- November 27 – Timrava (Božena Slančíková), Slovak novelist, short story writer and playwright (born 1867)
- December 4 – Pedro Salinas, Spanish poet (born 1891)
- December 10 – Algernon Blackwood, English novelist and journalist (born 1869)
- Carnegie Medal for children's literature: Cynthia Harnett, The Wool-Pack
- Frost Medal: Wallace Stevens
- James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction: Chapman Mortimer, Father Goose
- James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography: Noel Annan, Leslie Stephen
- Newbery Medal: Elizabeth Yates, Amos Fortune, Free Man
- Nobel Prize in Literature: Pär Lagerkvist
- Premio Nadal: Luis Romero, La noria
- Pulitzer Prize for Drama: no award given
- Pulitzer Prize for Fiction: Conrad Richter, The Town
- Pulitzer Prize for Poetry: Carl Sandburg, Complete Poems
- History of Headington, Oxford. Accessed 8 January 2013.
- "Amir Barghashi" (in Swedish). Swedish Film Institute. Retrieved 15 June 2010.