1656 in literature
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This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1656.
- April 25 – In London, the Council of State, usually busy with larger matters, has taken on the censorship of individual books and orders Robert Tichborne, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, to burn a volume titled Sportive Wit, or the Muses' Merriment for its "scandalous, lascivious, scurrilous, and profane matter."
- May – Performance of The Siege of Rhodes, Part I, by Sir William Davenant, the "first English opera" (under the guise of a recitative), in a private theatre at his home, Rutland House, in the City of London. This also includes the innovative use of painted backdrops and the appearance of England's first professional actress, Mrs. Coleman as Ianthe.
- May 9 – Choice Drollery, Songs, and Sonnets is ordered destroyed by Britain's Council of State.
- July 27 – Baruch Spinoza is excluded from the Jewish religious community in Amsterdam.
- November 12 – John Milton marries Katherine Woodcock.
- Two playbooks published in London in this year, The Careless Shepherdess and The Old Law, contain the first "play lists" or catalogues of published dramas ever issued in England.
- Publication in Cambridge, New England, of the catechism Spiritual Milk for Boston Babes by Rev. John Cotton, the first known children's book published in America.
- Cyrano de Bergerac – Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon
- Thomas Blount – Glossographia; or, a dictionary interpreting the hard words of whatsoever language now used in our refined English tongue
- Méric Casaubon – A Treatise Concerning Enthusiasm
- Margaret Cavendish – Nature's Pictures
- William Dugdale – Antiquities of Warwickshire (seen as a model for a county history)
- James Harrington – The Commonwealth of Oceana
- Thomas Hobbes – Questions concerning Liberty, Necessity and Chance
- Michael Maier – Themis aurea: the Laws of the Fraternity of the Rosie Crosse (first English translation)
- Marchamont Nedham – The Excellency of a Free State
- Adam Olearius – Vermehrte Newe Beschreibung Der Muscowitischen und Persischen Reyse So durch gelegenheit einer Holsteinischen Gesandtschaft an den Russischen Zaar und König in Persien geschehen (Further new description of the Muscovite and Persian journey made on the occasion of a Holstein mission to the Russian Tsar and the King of Persia)
- Francis Osborne – Advice to a Son (an anti-marriage book, condemned and burned for immorality)
- Blaise Pascal – Provincial Letters (first letter in series, completed March 1657)
- John Tradescant the Younger – Musæum Tradescantianum; or, a collection of rarities preserved at South-Lambeth neer London (descriptive catalog of museum)
- Gerard Winstanley – The Law of Freedom
- Thomas Dekker & John Ford – The Sun's Darling
- Thomas Goffe – Three Excellent Tragedies; The Careless Shepherdess
- Thomas Middleton, William Rowley, & Philip Massinger – The Old Law
- Molière – Le Dépit amoureux
- Abraham Cowley – The Miscellanies
- William Davenant – Wit and Drollery: Jovial Poems
- Andreas Gryphius – Kirchhofsgedanken (Cemetery thoughts)
- Pierre Corneille – L'Imitation de Jésus-Christ
- January 1 – Silvester Jenks, English Catholic theologian and philosopher (died 1714)
- April 17 – William Molyneux, Irish natural philosopher and political writer (died 1698)
- August 3 – Jean Galbert de Campistron, French dramatist (died 1723)
- September 14 – Thomas Baker, English antiquary (died 1746)
- November 17 – Charles Davenant, English economist (died 1714)
- January 19 – Godfrey Goodman, English theologian and bishop (born c. 1582)
- August 24 – Aegidius Gelenius, German historian (born 1595)
- September 8 – Bishop Joseph Hall, English satirist (born 1574)
- October 3 – Myles Standish, American colonist (born c. 1584)
- December – John Edwards (Siôn Treredyn), Welsh Anglican priest and translator (born c. 1605)
- Unknown date – Thomas Gage, English writer and cleric (born c. 1597)