This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1896.
- February 11 – While Oscar Wilde is in prison, his play Salome (written in 1891) is premièred in its original 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.
- July 7 – Charles Thomas Wooldridge is hanged at Reading Gaol in England for uxoricide, inspiring fellow-prisoner C.3.3. Oscar Wilde's The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1897).
- 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 (Чайка, Chayka) is unsuccessfully premièred at the Alexandrinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg (Russia).
- November – The British magazine The Lady's Realm is first published, edited by William Henry Wilkins.
- 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.
- Frank Munsey's The Argosy publishes its first all adult fiction issue, pioneering the pulp magazine genre in the United States.
- 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 and discover the Oxyrhynchus Papyri.
- The English 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 Publishers Association is established in the United Kingdom as a trade association.
- The Cheltenham typeface is designed by architect Bertram Goodhue and Ingalls Kimball, director of the Cheltenham Press in New York.
- Herman Bang – Ludvigsbakke
- Max Beerbohm – The Works of Max Beerbohm
- René Boylesve – Le Médecin des dames de Néans
- Frances Hodgson Burnett – A Lady of Quality
- Abraham Cahan – Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto
- Hall Caine – Jan the Icelander or Home, Sweet Home, A Lecture Story
- Joseph Conrad – An Outcast of the Islands
- Marie Corelli
- The Mighty Atom
- The Murder of Delicia
- Machado de Assis – Várias histórias (short story collection)
- Isabelle Eberhardt as Nicolas Podolinsky – "Per fas et nefas" (short story)
- Edouard Estaunie – L'Empreinte
- Jane Findlater – The Green Graves of Balgowrie
- 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 (樋口 一葉) – Takekurabe (Comparing Heights, translated as Child's Play)
- W. W. Jacobs – Many Cargoes (short stories)
- Sarah Orne Jewett – The Country of the Pointed Firs
- Olha Kobylianska – Arystokratka
- "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
- Bolesław Prus – Pharaoh (Faraon; serialization concludes)
- 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
Children and young people
- R. D. Blackmore – Tales from the Telling House
- Christabel R. Coleridge – Minstrel Dick. A Tale of the XIVth Century
- K. Langloh Parker – Australian Legendary Tales
- George Ade – Artie
- Anton Chekhov – The Seagull
- Georges Feydeau – Le Dindon
- Henrik Ibsen – John Gabriel Borkman
- Alfred Jarry – Ubu Roi
- Maurice Maeterlinck – Aglavaine et Sélysette
- Hilaire Belloc
- The Bad Child's Book of Beasts
- Verses and Sonnets
- Richard Dehmel – Weib und Welt
- Paul Laurence Dunbar – Lyrics of Lowly Life, Majors and Minors and "We Wear the Mask"
- A. E. Housman – A Shropshire Lad
- Robert Louis Stevenson – Songs of Travel, and Other Verses
- See also 1896 in poetry
- Theodor Herzl – Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State)
- George Holyoake – The Origin and Nature of Secularism
- 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, English dramatist and actor (died 1984)
- January 9 – Eleanor Graham, English children's writer and editor (died 1984)
- January 12 – Nobuko Yoshiya, Japanese romantic novelist (died 1973)
- January 14 – John Dos Passos, American novelist (died 1970)
- January 21 – Guy Gilpatric, American short story writer (suicide 1950)
- February 12 – Dorothy Frooks, American author and publisher (died 1997)
- February 18 – André Breton, French Surrealist poet and author (died 1966)
- March 10 – Nancy Cunard, English patron of the arts (died 1965)
- April 16 – Tristan Tzara, Romanian-French poet and essayist (died 1963)
- April 23 – Margaret Kennedy, English novelist and playwright (died 1967)
- May 1 – Mihai Ralea, Romanian critic and sociologist of literature (died 1964)
- May 3 – Dodie Smith, English novelist and dramatist (died 1990)
- May 9 – Austin Clarke, Irish poet, playwright and novelist (died 1974)
- May 27 – Joanna Cannan, English writer of children's pony books and detective novels (died 1961)
- June 6 – R. C. Sherriff, English dramatist (died 1975)
- July 19 – A. J. Cronin, Scottish novelist (died 1981)
- July 25 – Josephine Tey, Scottish crime writer (died 1952)
- August 28 – Liam O'Flaherty, Irish novelist and short-story writer (died 1984)
- September 4 – Antonin Artaud, French theater director (died 1948)
- September 5 – Heimito von Doderer, Austrian author (died 1966)
- September 22 – Uri Zvi Grinberg, Austro-Hungarian-born Israeli poet writing in Yiddish and Hebrew (died 1981)
- September 24 – F. Scott Fitzgerald, American writer (died 1940)
- October 11 – Roman Jakobson, Russian linguistic theorist (died 1982)
- October 30 – Ruth Gordon, American actress and screenwriter (died 1985)
- November 4 – J. R. Ackerley, English literary editor (died 1967)
- December – Sandu Tudor, Romanian poet, journalist and theologian (died 1962)
- Unknown date – Edith Ditmas, English archivist, historian and writer (died 1986)
- January 8 – Paul Verlaine, French poet (born 1844)
- January 17 – Lady Llanover, Welsh writer and patron of the arts (born 1802)
- February 26 – Arsène Houssaye, French novelist, poet and man of letters (born 1815)
- March 22 – Ludwig Laistner, German novelist, mythologist, and literary historian (born 1845)
- May 11 – Henry Cuyler Bunner, American novelist and poet (born 1855)
- May 13 – Nora Perry, American poet, journalist and children's author (born 1831)
- June 8 – Jules Simon, French philosopher (born 1814)
- June 22 – Sir Augustus Harris, French-born English dramatist and theater manager (born 1852)
- July 1 – Harriet Beecher Stowe, American novelist (born 1811)
- July 11 – Ernst Curtius, German historian (born 1814)
- July 16 – Edmond de Goncourt, French critic and founder of Prix Goncourt (born 1822)
- July 23 – Mary Dickens, English memoirist, editor and novelist (born 1838)
- August 17 – Mary Abigail Dodge (Gail Hamilton), American essayist (born 1833)
- October 3 – William Morris, English poet, novelist and designer (born 1834)
- October 8 – George du Maurier, English cartoonist and novelist (born 1834)
- November 26
- December 10 – Alfred Nobel, Swedish founder of the Nobel prizes (born 1833 in literature)
- 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.
- Kingsford, R. J. L. (1970). The Publishers Association 1896-1946. Cambridge University Press.
- Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. .
- Eduard Theiner (1982), "Laistner, Ludwig", Neue Deutsche Biographie (NDB) (in German), 13, Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 422–423
- "Manager Harris Dead" (PDF). The New York Times. 23 June 1896. Retrieved 21 August 2009.