1791 in literature
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This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1791.
- May 16 – James Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson is published in 2 volumes in London on the 28th anniversary of their first meeting.
- Chinese writer and publisher Gao E and his partner Cheng Weiyan claim to have discovered Cao Xueqin's lost novel Dream of the Red Chamber.
- Scottish poet and exciseman Robert Burns moves to Dumfries.
- English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge begins his course at Jesus College, Cambridge, marking his transfer from Christ's Hospital school by composition of the poem "On Quitting School".
- Cao Xueqin (曹雪芹) and others – Dream of the Red Chamber (紅樓夢, first printed edition)
- Jean-Baptiste Louvet de Couvrai – Émilie de Varmont
- Elizabeth Inchbald – A Simple Story
- Ann Radcliffe – The Romance of the Forest
- Susanna Rowson – Charlotte, a Tale of Truth
- Marquis de Sade – Justine ou Les Malheurs de la vertu
- Charlotte Turner Smith – Celestina
- Antoine-Vincent Arnault – Marius à Minturne
- Elizabeth Inchbald – Lovers' Vows
- John O'Keeffe – Wild Oats
- James Boswell – Life of Samuel Johnson
- Olympe de Gouges – Declaration of the Rights of Woman and the Female Citizen
- Isaac D'Israeli – Curiosities of Literature (Volume 1)
- William Gilpin – Remarks on Forest Scenery and Other Woodland Views (3 volumes)
- Thomas Paine – Rights of Man (Part 1)
- Petrarch's View of Life (Latin dialogues De remediis utriusque fortunae translated by Susannah Dobson)
- Helen Maria Williams – Letters on the French Revolution
- January 15 – Franz Grillparzer, Austrian dramatist (died 1872)
- March 15 – Charles Knight, English publisher and author (died 1873)
- July 5 – Samuel Bailey, English philosopher and author (died 1870)
- August 17 – Richard Lalor Sheil, Irish politician, author and orator (died 1851)
- September 21 – István Széchenyi, Hungarian politician, writer and diarist (died 1860)
- October 26 – Charles Sprague, American poet and banker (died 1875)
- December 24 – Eugène Scribe, French dramatist (died 1861)
- January 11 – William Williams Pantycelyn, Welsh religious writer and hymnist (born 1717)
- March 2 – John Wesley, English preacher and religious writer (born 1703)
- April 2 – Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau, French revolutionary and writer (born 1749)
- April 19 – Richard Price, Welsh moral philosopher and preacher (born 1723)
- June 12 – Francis Grose, English antiquary and lexicographer (born c. 1730)
- June 30 – Jean-Baptiste Descamps, French writer and painter (born 1714)
- July 2 – Søren Abildgaard, Danish naturalist and writer (born 1718)
- November 22 – Johann Silberschlag, German theologian (born 1721)
- Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus (1979) is based on circumstances surrounding the Death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.