January–May – Publication of H. G. Wells' first "scientific romance", the novella The Time Machine, serially in The New Review (London). The first book editions are published by Henry Holt and Company in New York on May 7 and by Heinemann in London on May 29.
January 3 – Première of Oscar Wilde's comedy An Ideal Husband at the Haymarket Theatre in London.
Première of Henry James's historical drama Guy Domville at St James's Theatre in London is booed.
A. E. Waite ceases to publish and edit his own occult periodical The Unknown World.
January 12 – The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty is registered in England and begins acquiring properties and making them accessible to the public. Carlyle's House in Chelsea is one of the first to be opened.
February – The monthly The Bookman (New York) is first published by Dodd, Mead and Company under the editorship of Harry Thurston Peck and publishes the first bestseller list, which is headed by Frank R. Stockton's novel The Adventures of Captain Horn.
February 14 – Première of Oscar Wilde's last play, the comedy The Importance of Being Earnest, at St. James' Theatre, London.
February 18 – The Marquess of Queensberry (father of Lord Alfred Douglas, Oscar Wilde's lover), leaves his calling card at the Albemarle Club in London, inscribed: "For Oscar Wilde, posing somdomite", i.e. a sodomite, inducing Wilde to charge him with criminal libel. In a meeting on March 25 at the Café Royal in London, Frank Harris and George Bernard Shaw fail to dissuade Wilde from proceeding with the action.
April/May – Pan, a German arts and literary magazine, is first published, in Berlin.
April 3–5 – Libel case of Wilde v Queensberry at the Old Bailey in London: Queensberry is acquitted. Evidence of Wilde's homosexual relationships with young men renders him liable to criminal prosecution under the Labouchere Amendment, while the Libel Act 1843 renders him legally liable for the considerable expenses Queensberry has incurred in his defence, leaving Wilde penniless.
April 6 – Oscar Wilde is arrested at the Cadogan Hotel, London (in the company of Robbie Ross), for "unlawfully committing acts of gross indecency with certain male persons" and detained on remand in Holloway Prison.
April 29 – Joseph Conrad's novel Almayer's Folly is published in London by T. Fisher Unwin, Conrad's first published work (following retirement from his career at sea) and the first appearance of his pseudonym.
May 23 – Representatives of the Astor Library and Lenox Library agree to merge and form the New York Public Library.
Criminal case of Regina v. Wilde: After a retrial at the Old Bailey, Oscar Wilde is convicted of gross indecency and is taken to Pentonville Prison to begin his two years' sentence of hard labour. On November 21 he is transferred to Reading Gaol.
Henry Irving becomes the first actor invested with a knighthood.
The American Historical Review is published for the first time.
Stephen Crane's American Civil War novel The Red Badge of Courage is first published in (abridged) book format by D. Appleton & Company in New York.
Rudyard Kipling publishes the story "Mowgli Leaves the Jungle Forever" in The Cosmopolitan illustrated magazine in the United States, concluding the series collected in The Second Jungle Book published in England in November.
November 1 – Thomas Hardy's last completed novel, Jude the Obscure is published by Osgood, McIlvaine, and Co. in London (dated 1896) on completion of an expurgated serialization under the title Hearts Insurgent in Harper's Magazine. It receives strong criticism on moral grounds; Hardy later claims that Walsham How, Bishop of Wakefield, burned a copy.
December 19 – Robert Frost marries Elinor Miriam White at Lawrence, Massachusetts.
George du Maurier's novel Trilby, serialized in 1894, is first published in book form. It is also adapted as a play, Trilby, first in the United States (opening on March 4 at the Boston Museum (theatre) with a New York première on April 15 at the Garden Theatre) with Wilton Lackaye as Svengali and Virginia Harned in the title rôle; then in England (opening on September 7 at the Theatre Royal, Manchester with a London première on October 30 at the Haymarket Theatre) with Herbert Beerbohm Tree and Dorothea Baird. The stage version is so successful that Tree is able to use the profits to build Her Majesty's Theatre; it also introduces the trilby hat.
William Poel establishes the Elizabethan Stage Society to promote productions of plays by Shakespeare and his contemporaries in the performance style of the English Renaissance theatre.
Abdallah bin Hemedi bin Ali Ajjemy's Habari za Wakilindi is the first Swahili novel.
Publication in Boston (U.S.) of Castello Holford's utopian novel Aristopia: A Romance-History of the New World, the first full-length alternate history in English.
Ernest Thayer recites Casey at the Bat at a Harvard class reunion, resolving the "mystery" of the poem's authorship.
The first edition of the Times Atlas of the World is published at the office of The Times newspaper in London.
The British Barbarians
The Woman Who Did
John Kendrick Bangs – A House-Boat on the Styx
Rhoda Broughton – Scylla or Charybdis?
Mary Elizabeth Braddon – Sons of Fire
Robert W. Chambers – The King in Yellow
Joseph Conrad – Almayer's Folly
Marie Corelli – The Sorrows of Satan
Stephen Crane – The Red Badge of Courage
Victoria Crosse – The Woman Who Didn't
Ménie Muriel Dowie – Gallia
Isabelle Eberhardt as Nicolas Podolinsky – "Infernalia" (short story)
J. Meade Falkner – The Lost Stradivarius
Antonio Fogazzaro – The Little World of the Past (Piccolo mondo antico)
Hamlin Garland – Rose of Dutcher's Coolly
The Paying Guest
Thomas Hardy – Jude the Obscure
Castello Holford – Aristopia
William Wilson Hunter – The Old Missionary (book publication)
Joris-Karl Huysmans – En Route
Henry James – Terminations (collection)
Olha Kobylianska – Tsarivna (Princess)
John Uri Lloyd – Etidorhpa, or, the end of the earth: the strange history of a mysterious being and the account of a remarkable journey
George MacDonald – Lilith
Ian Maclaren – The Days of Auld Lang Syne
George Meredith – The Amazing Marriage
Dmitry Merezhkovsky – The Death of the Gods
Kálmán Mikszáth – St. Peter's Umbrella (Szent Péter esernyője)
Arthur Morrison – Chronicles of Martin Hewitt
Gustavus W. Pope – Journey to Venus
Bolesław Prus – Pharaoh (Faraon; serialization begins)
Emilio Salgari – I misteri della jungla nera
Henryk Sienkiewicz – Quo Vadis
Leo Tolstoy – Master and Man (Хозяин и работник)
Jules Verne – Propeller Island (L'Île à hélice)
H. G. Wells – The Time Machine
Children and young people
Lewis Carroll – Sylvie and Bruno
G. E. Farrow – The Wallypug of Why
The Brushwood Boy
The Second Jungle Book
L. T. Meade – A Princess of the Gutter
Emilio Salgari – I Misteri della Jungla Nera (The Mystery of the Black Jungle – first in the Sandokan series of eleven books)
Florence Kate Upton – The Adventures of Two Dutch Dolls and a Golliwogg
Alice Zimmern – Greek History for Young Readers
Tristan Bernard – Les Pieds nickelés
Joaquín Dicenta – Juan José
José Echegaray – El estigma
Alfred Jarry – Caesar Antichrist
Maurice Maeterlinck – Interior (first production)
Jules Renard – La Demande
Arthur Schnitzler – Liebelei
Tsubouchi Shōyō (坪内 逍遥) – Kiri Hitoha (A Paulownia Leaf, writing complete)
Frank Wedekind – Earth Spirit
Oscar Wilde – The Importance of Being Earnest
Pauline Johnson — The White Wampum
Giovanni Marradi — Ballati moderne
Banjo Paterson — The Man from Snowy River and Other Verses
See also 1895 in poetry
Francis Darwin – The Elements of Botany
Annetta Seabury Dresser – The Philosophy of P. P. Quimby
Friedrich Nietzsche – Der Antichrist (written 1888)
Lord Acton – A Lecture on the Study of History
February 14 – Max Horkheimer, German philosopher (died 1973)
February 28 – Marcel Pagnol, French novelist (died 1974)
March 29 – Ernst Jünger, German novelist (died 1998)
April 17 – Ion Vinea, Romanian poet and novelist (died 1964)
April 23 – Ngaio Marsh, New Zealand novelist (died 1982)
May 9 – Lucian Blaga, Romanian poet and philosopher (died 1961)
May 19 – Charles Sorley, Scottish-born poet (killed in action 1915)
May 24 – Marcel Janco, Romanian–Israeli artist, art theorist, essayist and poet (died 1984)
June 16 – Warren Lewis, Irish-born historian (died 1973)
July 14 – F. R. Leavis, English literary critic (died 1978)
July 24 – Robert Graves, English poet and novelist (died 1985)
September 21 – Sergei Yesenin, Russian poet (died 1925)
October 3 – Giovanni Comisso, Italian writer (died 1969)
October 17 – C. H. B. Kitchin, English novelist (died 1967)
October 20 – Alexandru Rosetti, Romanian linguist, editor and memoirist (died 1990)
October 31 – B. H. Liddell Hart, English military historian (died 1970)
November 1 – David Jones, British poet and artist (died 1974)
November 16 – Michael Arlen, Armenian novelist and short story writer (died 1956)
December 1 – Henry Williamson, English novelist (died 1977)
December 9 – Vivian de Sola Pinto, English poet, literary critic, and historian (died 1969)
December 14 – Paul Éluard, French poet (died 1952)
December 24 – Noel Streatfeild, English novelist and children's writer (died 1986)
January 13 – John Robert Seeley, English historian and essayist (born 1834)
January 15 – Lady Charlotte Guest, English translator of Welsh literature (born 1812)
February 16 – Camilla Dufour Crosland, English writer and poet (born 1812)
February 19 – Auguste Vacquerie, French journalist (born 1819)
February 20 – Frederick Douglass, African-American abolitionist, orator and writer (born 1818)
March 5 – Nikolai Leskov, Russian journalist, novelist and short story writer (born 1831)
March 15 – Cesare Cantù, Italian historian (born 1804)
March 22 – Henry Coppée, American historian and biographer (born 1821)
April 3 – Gustav Freytag, German novelist and dramatist (born 1816)
April 17 – Jorge Isaacs, Colombian writer, politician and explorer (born 1837)
April 26 – Eric Stenbock, German poet (born 1858)
May 26 – Ahmet Cevdet Pasha, Ottoman historian and legal writer (born 1822)
August 1 – Heinrich von Sybel, German historian (born 1817)
August 5 – Friedrich Engels, German socialist writer (born 1820)
November 4 – Eugene Field, American children's author (born 1850)
November 27 – Alexandre Dumas, fils, French novelist and dramatist (born 1824)
November 28 – L. S. Bevington, English anarchist poet and essayist (born 1845)
Unknown date – William Grainge, English local historian (born 1818)