January 3 – A decree (Normalschrifterlass) promulgated in Nazi Germany by Martin Bormann on behalf of Adolf Hitler requires replacement of blackletter typefaces by Antiqua.
January 20 – Chittadhar Hridaya begins a 6-year sentence of imprisonment in Kathmandu for writing poetry in Nepal Bhasa during which time he secretly composes his Buddhist epic Sugata Saurabha in the same language.
January 21–January 23 – A failed "Legionary Rebellion" in Bucharest, opposing loyalists of the Ion Antonescu government to the radically fascist Iron Guard; doubles as a pogrom against Romanian Jews. Avant-garde poet Ion Barbu joins a rebel squad storming into the Ministry of Education; meanwhile, his colleague Ion Vinea protects a Jewish friend, novelist Sergiu Dan. The destruction of Jewish life and property is documented from inside the Jewish community by photojournalist F. Brunea-Fox, and by Marcel Janco. Janco's brother-in-law, essayist Jacques G. Costin, survives, but his brother is tortured and killed by the Guard; the murder prompts Janco to leave for British Palestine in February.
Spring – The Antioch Review is founded as a literary magazine at Antioch College in Ohio.
April – Jean-Paul Sartre is released from prisoner of war camp on health grounds.
April 6 – National Library of Serbia destroyed by bombing.
April 19 – Bertolt Brecht's play Mother Courage and Her Children (Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder) is premiered at the Schauspielhaus Zürich in Switzerland with Therese Giehse in the title rôle.
May 5 – Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin meet while both reading English at St John's College, Oxford.
May 21 – 1941 theatre strike in Norway begins: Actors in the Norwegian professional theatre strike in response to the revocation of work permits for six actors who refused to perform on state radio for the Quisling regime under the occupation of Norway by Nazi Germany.
June – Noël Coward's comedy Blithe Spirit is premiered at Manchester Opera House in England. Opening in London on July 2, its run of 1,997 consecutive performances sets a record for non-musical plays in the West End theatre which will not be surpassed for more than twenty years. The original cast stars Kay Hammond as Elvira, Margaret Rutherford as Madame Arcati, Cecil Parker as Charles and Fay Compton as Ruth. The Broadway premiere takes place on November 5 at the Morosco Theatre.
June 22 – Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi-led attack on the Soviet Union. Among the refugees is Moldovan Jewish poet Alexandru Robot, declared missing and presumed dead by August.
June 29 – Iași pogrom in Nazi-allied Romania, witnessed by Italian war correspondent Curzio Malaparte, who recounts it in a chapter of his novel Kaputt (1944), for long the only work to deal with the events.
August 6 – C. S. Lewis begins a series of BBC Radio broadcasts that will be adapted as Mere Christianity.
August 18 – 19-year-old Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Jr., a poet of American paternity serving in Britain with the Royal Canadian Air Force, flies a high-altitude test flight in a Spitfire V from RAF Llandow in Wales and afterwards writes the sonnet "High Flight" about the experience (completed by September 3); on December 11 he dies in a collision over England.
September – In Nazi-allied Romania, George Călinescu puts out his companion to Romanian literature (Istoria literaturii române de la origini până în prezent). It is condemned in the far-right press for including entries on Romanian Jewish writers, whose work had been explicitly banned, and is eventually pulled from circulation; its own racialist undertones are criticized by various intellectuals, Jewish (Felix Aderca, Mihail Sebastian) as well as Romanian (Șerban Cioculescu, Mihai Ralea, Vladimir Streinu).
September 6–7 – Under Nazi occupation, Yiddish poet Abraham Sutzkever is among the Polish Jews interned in the Vilna Ghetto.
c. October – The first known reference to Babi Yar in poetry is written soon after the Babi Yar massacres by the young Jewish-Ukrainian poet from Kiev and an eyewitness, Liudmila Titova; her poem "Babi Yar" will be discovered only in the 1990s.
October 27 – F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Last Tycoon, left unfinished on the author's death in 1940, is edited by Edmund Wilson and published by Charles Scribner's Sons in New York City.
November – Brendan Behan is released from Borstal in England and deported to Ireland.
During the Siege of Leningrad, Yakov Druskin, ill and starving, and Maria Malich, the second wife of Russian avant-garde poet Danil Kharms (arrested this summer on suspicion of treason and imprisoned in the psychiatric ward at Leningrad Prison No. 1 where he will die in 1942), trudge across the city to Kharms' bombed-out apartment building and collect a trunk full of manuscripts, preserving his and fellow poet Alexander Vvedensky's work for decades until it can be circulated. Vvedensky, arrested in September in Kharkov for "counterrevolutionary agitation", was evacuated but died of pleurisy en route.
Penguin Books publishes the first story book under its Puffin Books children's paperback imprint in the United Kingdom, Worzel Gummidge by Barbara Euphan Todd. The series editor is Eleanor Graham.
New building for National and University Library of Slovenia in Ljubljana, designed by Jože Plečnik in 1930/31, is completed.
Biblioteca Cantonale (Cantonal Library) in Lugano, Canton of Ticino in neutral Switzerland, designed by Rino and Carlo Tami, is completed.
Bosnian Serb writer Branko Ćopić joins the Yugoslav Partisans.
Poet Ezra Pound applies to return to the United States from Italy but is refused. He begins appearing on Rome Radio, making antisemitic broadcasts sympathetic to the Axis powers.
Classic Comics series launched in the United States with a version of The Three Musketeers.
Margery Allingham – Traitor's Purse
William Attaway – Blood on the Forge
Frans G. Bengtsson – The Long Ships, part 1 (Röde Orm, originally translated as Red Orm)
Maurice Blanchot – Thomas l'Obscur (Thomas the Obscure)
Godfried Bomans – Erik of het klein insectenboek (Erik and His Little Insect Book)
Jorge Luis Borges – The Garden of Forking Paths (El Jardín de senderos que se bifurcan, short stories)
Frank Buck with Ferrin Fraser All In A Lifetime
Pearl S. Buck – China Sky
James M. Cain – Mildred Pierce
Joyce Carey – Herself Surprised
John Dickson Carr
The Case of the Constant Suicides
Death Turns the Tables
Seeing is Believing (as by Carter Dickson)
Evil Under the Sun
N or M?
A. J. Cronin – The Keys of the Kingdom
Eric Cross – The Tailor and Ansty
L. Sprague de Camp – Lest Darkness Fall (complete novel)
August Derleth – Someone in the Dark
Walter D. Edmonds – The Matchlock Gun
F. Scott Fitzgerald (posthumously) – The Last Tycoon
Marcus Goodrich – Delilah (novel)
Patrick Hamilton – Hangover Square
Robert A. Heinlein – Methuselah's Children
James Hilton – Random Harvest
Soeman Hs – Kawan Bergeloet (Playmate, collected short stories)
Anna Kavan – Change the Name
C. S. Lewis – The Screwtape Letters
Janet Lewis – The Wife of Martin Guerre
Hugh MacLennan – Barometer Rising
W. Somerset Maugham – Up at the Villa
Oscar Micheaux – The Wind From Nowhere
Betty Miller – Farewell, Leicester Square
Edgar Mittelholzer – Corentyne Thunder
Vilhelm Moberg – Ride This Night (Rid i natt)
Paul Morand – The Man in a Hurry (L'Homme pressé)
Vladimir Nabokov – The Real Life of Sebastian Knight
Flann O'Brien – An Béal Bocht
E. Phillips Oppenheim – The Shy Plutocrat
Rafael Sabatini – Columbus
Budd Schulberg – What Makes Sammy Run?
Anya Seton – My Theodosia
Armstrong Sperry – Call It Courage
Phoebe Atwood Taylor
The Perennial Boarder
The Hollow Chest (as by Alice Tilton)
Kylie Tennant – The Battlers
Rex Warner – The Aerodrome
Eudora Welty – A Curtain of Green
Virginia Woolf (posthumously) – Between the Acts
The Adventurous Four
The Twins at St. Clare's
Walter D. Edmonds – The Matchlock Gun
Mary Grannan – Just Mary
Robert McCloskey – Make Way for Ducklings
Arthur Ransome – Missee Lee
H. A. Rey and Margret Rey – Curious George (first in the Curious George series of seven books)
Mary Treadgold – We Couldn't Leave Dinah
Dorothy Vicary – Lucy Brown's Schooldays etc.
Laura Ingalls Wilder – Little Town on the Prairie
Le Rendez-vous de Senlis
Mother Courage and Her Children
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (written)
Noël Coward – Blithe Spirit
Esther McCracken – Quiet Weekend
Enrique Jardiel Poncela – We Thieves Are Honourable (Los ladrones somos gente honrada)
Xavier Villaurrutia – Invitación à la muerte
W. H. Auden – New Year Letter (British edition of 'The Double Man')
William Rose Benét – The Dust which is God
Laurence Binyon – The North Star and Other Poems
T. S. Eliot – The Dry Salvages (third of the Four Quartets; in February New English Weekly)
G. S. Fraser – The Fatal Landscape and Other Poems
Patrick Kavanagh – The Great Hunger
John Gillespie Magee, Jr. – "High Flight"
John Pudney – "For Johnny"
George Călinescu – Istoria literaturii române de la origini până în prezent
The Case for African Freedom
A House of Children
The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations
Louis MacNeice – The Poetry of W. B. Yeats
Vita Sackville-West – English Country Houses
Antal Szerb – A világirodalom története (History of World Literature)
Rebecca West – Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: a journey through Yugoslavia
Stefan Zweig – Brasilien. Ein Land der Zukunft (Brazil, Land of the Future)
January 19 – Colin Gunton, English theologian and academic (died 2003)
January 24 – Gary K. Wolf, American humorist
Donella Meadows, American environmentalist (died 2001)
Mahmoud Darwish, Palestinian poet (died 2008)
April 10 – Paul Theroux, American novelist and travel writer
May 13 – Miles Kington, Northern Irish-born humorist and journalist (died 2008)
May 19 – Nora Ephron, American novelist and screenwriter (died 2012)
May 24 – Bob Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, American singer-songwriter, recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature
June 5 – Spalding Gray, American screenwriter and dramatist (died 2004)
June 27 – James P. Hogan, English-born American science fiction author (died 2010)
July 12 – John Lahr, American-born author and critic
Shirlee Busbee, American novelist
Jamila Gavin, Anglo-Indian children's writer
September 1 – Gwendolyn MacEwen, Canadian poet (died 1987)
September 3 – Sergei Dovlatov, Russian short-story writer and novelist (died 1990)
September 15 – Lindsay Barrett, Jamaican novelist, poet and journalist
October 2 – John Sinclair, American poet
October 4 – Anne Rice, American horror/fantasy writer
October 10 – Ken Saro-Wiwa, Nigerian writer (executed, died 1995)
October 13 – John Snow, English cricketer and poet
October 20 – Stewart Parker, Northern Irish poet and playwright (died 1988)
October 25 – Anne Tyler, American novelist
October 27 – Gerd Brantenberg, Norwegian novelist, author and feminist
December 5 – Sheridan Morley, English biographer and critic (died 2007)
John Mole, English poet
Jay Rubin, American scholar and translator
Pepetela, Angolan novelist
January 4 – Henri Bergson, French philosopher (born 1859)
Franz Hessel, German writer and translator (born 1880)
F. R. Higgins, Irish poet and theater director (born 1896)
January 13 – James Joyce, Irish novelist and poet (born 1882)
January 23 – William Arthur Dunkerley (John Oxenham), English journalist, novelist and poet (born 1852)
February 7 – Banjo Paterson, Australian bush poet (born 1864)
February 9 – Elizabeth von Arnim, Australian-born English novelist (born 1866)
February 24 – Robert Byron, English travel writer (born 1905; torpedoed)
March 13 – Elizabeth Madox Roberts, American novelist and poet (born 1881)
March 28 – Virginia Woolf, English novelist and writer (born 1882; suicide)
June 1 – Sir Hugh Walpole, New Zealand-born English novelist (born 1884)
June 15 – Evelyn Underhill, English poet, mystic and pacifist (born 1875)
July 4 – Tadeusz Boy-Żeleński, Polish writer, translator and gynecologist (born 1874)
August 7 – Rabindranath Tagore, Bengali polymath and writer (born 1861)
August 31 – Marina Tsvetaeva, Soviet Russian poet (born 1892; suicide)
September 19 – H. E. Marshall, Scottish history writer for children (born 1867)
November 18 – Émile Nelligan, French Canadian poet (born 1879)
Carnegie Medal for children's literature: Mary Treadgold, We Couldn't Leave Dinah
Frost Medal: Robert Frost
James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction: Joyce Cary, A House of Children
James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography: John Gore, King George V
Newbery Medal for children's literature: Armstrong Sperry, Call It Courage
Nobel Prize for literature: not awarded
Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Robert E. Sherwood, There Shall Be No Night
Pulitzer Prize for Poetry: Leonard Bacon: Sunderland Capture
Pulitzer Prize for the Novel: no award given
1941 in literature Wikipedia
This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1941.