January 11 – Bertolt Brecht's play Mother Courage and Her Children (Mutter Courage und ihre Kinder, 1939) is first performed in Germany, at the Deutsches Theater in East Berlin with his wife Helene Weigel in the title role and staged with his Verfremdungseffekt ("distancing effect"). This is the origin of the Berliner Ensemble.
January 31 – The radio series Book at Bedtime debuts on the BBC Light Programme in the United Kingdom with the start of a reading of John Buchan's novel The Three Hostages.
February 10 – Arthur Miller's tragedy Death of a Salesman opens at the Morosco Theatre on Broadway in New York City with Lee J. Cobb in the title rôle of Willy Loman and runs for 742 performances.
March – Poet Pablo Neruda flees Chile over the Lilpela Pass through the Andes to Argentina on horseback carrying a manuscript of his Canto General.
Roy Campbell punches Stephen Spender on the nose at a poetry reading in London.
N'Ko alphabet devised by Solomana Kante as a writing system and literary language for the Manding languages of West Africa.
May – Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and his wife Caitlin settle at the Boat House, Laugharne in South Wales.
June 8 – George Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four is published in London by Secker & Warburg.
June – Oxford University Dramatic Society production of Shakespeare's The Tempest beside Worcester College lake, directed by Nevill Coghill.
First Cheltenham Literature Festival held in England, making it the longest-running festival of its kind in the world.
Street & Smith cease publication of all their pulp magazines in the United States.
October 5 – American writer Helene Hanff writes her first letter from New York City to the London antiquarian bookdealers Marks & Co in a correspondence which will eventually be collected as 84, Charing Cross Road.
October 13 – George Orwell marries Sonia Brownell while confined in University College Hospital, London, where he will die 3 months later.
Arthur C. Clarke becomes Assistant Editor of Science Abstracts.
Radclyffe Hall's lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness, convicted of obscenity in the United Kingdom on first publication in 1928, is republished posthumously in the U.K. by Falcon Press with no legal challenge.
Jean-Paul Sartre completes his Les Chemins de la Liberté ("The Roads to Freedom") trilogy.
The Théâtre du Rideau Vert is founded in Montreal by Yvette Brind'Amour and Mercedes Palomino as the first professional French-language theatre in Canada.
A statue of folk poet Larin Paraske is erected in Helsinki.
Enid Blyton's children's books Little Noddy Goes to Toyland, the first to introduce the title character; and The Secret Seven, first in the eponymous series, are published in England.
Nelson Algren – The Man with the Golden Arm
Miguel Ángel Asturias – Men of Maize (Hombres de maíz)
Antoine Blondin – L'Europe buissonnière
Jorge Luis Borges – The Aleph (El Aleph; short stories)
Paul Bowles – The Sheltering Sky
Fredric Brown – The Screaming Mimi
Pearl S. Buck – The Angry Wife
Dorothy Bussy – Olivia (published anonymously)
Taylor Caldwell – Let Love Come Last
Italo Calvino – The Crow Comes Last (Ultimo viene il corvo; short stories)
Alejo Carpentier – The Kingdom of this World (El reino de este mundo)
John Dickson Carr
A Graveyard To Let (as by Carter Dickson)
Agatha Christie – Crooked House
H. F. Ellis – The Papers of A. J. Wentworth B. A.
Foster Fitzsimmons – Bright Leaf
Graham Greene – The Third Man
A. B. Guthrie, Jr. – The Way West
Knut Hamsun – On Overgrown Paths (Paa gjengrodde Stier)
John Hawkes – Cannibal
Alfred Hayes – The Girl on the Via Flaminia
Marguerite Henry – King of the Wind
Georgette Heyer – Arabella
Shirley Jackson – The Lottery and Other Stories
Alaric Jacob – Scenes from a Bourgeois Life
Dagmar Lange – Mördaren ljuger inte ensam (The Murderer is Not the Only Liar)
Marghanita Laski – Little Boy Lost
H. P. Lovecraft – Something About Cats and Other Pieces
Robert Merle – Week-end at Zuydcoote (Week-end à Zuydcoote)
Nancy Mitford – Love in a Cold Climate
C. L. Moore – Beyond Earth's Gates
Stratis Myrivilis – Η Παναγιά η Γοργόνα (E Panayia e Yoryona, The Mermaid Madonna)
Máirtín Ó Cadhain – Cré na Cille (Graveyard Clay)
John O'Hara – A Rage to Live
George Orwell – Nineteen Eighty-Four
Karel Poláček – There Were Five of Us (Bylo nás pět)
Samuel Putnam (translator) – Don Quixote
Ellery Queen – Cat of Many Tails
Harold Robbins – The Dream Merchants
Jack Schaefer – Shane
Anna Seghers – The Dead Stay Young (Die Toten Bleiben Jung)
Nevil Shute – A Town Like Alice
Emma Smith – The Far Cry
The Second Confession
Trouble in Triplicate
Edward Streeter – Father of the Bride
Gwyn Thomas – All Things Betray Thee
Arved Viirlaid – Tormiaasta ("The Year of Storms")
Mika Waltari – The Wanderer (Mikael Hakim)
S. Fowler Wright – The Throne of Saturn (short stories)
Frank Yerby – Pride's Castle
Noddy Goes to Toyland
The Secret Seven
The Rockingdown Mystery
Ruby Ferguson – Jill's Gymkhana (first in the Jill series of nine books)
Tove Jansson – Finn Family Moomintroll
Astrid Lindgren – Most Beloved Sister
Clare Mallory – Juliet Overseas
Ruth Park – Poor Man's Orange
Willard Price – Amazon Adventure (first in the The Adventure Series)
H. E. Todd – Bobby Brewster and the Winkers' Club (first in the Bobby Brewster series of 24 books)
Geoffrey Trease – No Boats on Bannermere
Meriol Trevor – The Forest and the Kingdom (first in the World Dionysius trilogy)
T. S. Eliot – The Cocktail Party
Christopher Fry – The Lady's Not for Burning
Jean Genet – Deathwatch (Haute Surveillance)
Sidney Kingsley – Detective Story
Arthur Miller – Death of a Salesman
Lynn Riggs – Out of Dust
Nelson Rodrigues – Dorotéia
Carlos de Oliveira – Descida aos Infernos
Robert Frost – Complete Poems of Robert Frost (Holt)
Máirtín Ó Direáin – Rogha Dánta
Octavio Paz – Libertad bajo palabra
Fernand Braudel – La Méditerranée et le monde Méditerranéen à l'époque de Philippe II (The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II)
Origins of Modern Science
Christianity and History
Joseph Campbell – The Hero with a Thousand Faces
John Dickson Carr – The Life of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Thomas B. Costain – The Conquering Family (also The Conquerors, first book in Plantagenet Series)
Simone de Beauvoir – The Second Sex (Le Deuxième Sexe)
Dion Fortune – The Cosmic Doctrine (posthumous)
John Gunther – Death Be Not Proud
Jean Hugard and Frederick Braue – The Royal Road To Card Magic
John Maynard Keynes (posthumous) – Two Memoirs
Osbert Lancaster – Drayneflete Revealed (architectural satire)
Aldo Leopold – A Sand County Almanac
Margaret Mead – Male and Female
Audie Murphy – To Hell and Back
P. D. Ouspensky – In Search of the Miraculous
Amber Reeves – Ethics for Unbelievers
Finn Ronne – Antarctic Conquest
Gilbert Ryle – The Concept of Mind
January 1 – Radu Țuculescu, Romanian novelist, dramatist and theater director
January 12 – Haruki Murakami (村上 春樹), Japanese novelist
January 16 – John Guy, Australian-born British historian and biographer
January 26 – Jonathan Carroll, American author of fantasy fiction
January 27 – Ethan Mordden, American author
February 4 – Mark D. Devlin, American memoirist (died 2005)
February 23 – César Aira, Argentinian writer
March 22 – Brian Hanrahan, English journalist (died 2010)
March 26 – Patrick Süskind, German novelist
April 11 – Dorothy Allison, American novelist and campaigner
April 25 – James Fenton, English journalist, poet, critic and academic
June 5 – Ken Follett, English novelist
June 21 – John Agard, Guyanese poet
July 5 – Jill Murphy, English children's writer and illustrator
July 15 – Richard Russo, American Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist
August 3 – Peter Gutmann, American journalist
August 25 – Martin Amis, English novelist and critic
September – Jimmy McGovern, English screenwriter
September 26 – Jane Smiley, American novelist
October 5 – Peter Ackroyd, English biographer, novelist and critic
November 2 – Lois McMaster Bujold, American author of science fiction and fantasy
November 24 – Erwin Neutzsky-Wulff, Danish philosopher
December 22 – David Gilmour, Canadian novelist
December 24 – Alberto Pérez-Gómez, Mexican-born architectural historian
Unknown date – John Harris, American political writer
January 21 – William Price Drury, English novelist, playwright and officer (born 1861)
February 1 – N. D. Cocea, Romanian novelist, critic and journalist (born 1880)
February 11 – Axel Munthe, Swedish autobiographer and psychiatrist (born 1857)
March 2 – Sarojini Naidu, Indian poet and politician (born 1879)
May 6 – Maurice Maeterlinck, Belgian poet, playwright and Nobel Laureate (born 1862)
June 10 – Sigrid Undset, Norwegian author and Nobel Laureate (born 1882)
June 11 – Oton Župančič, Slovene poet, translator and dramatist (born 1878)
June 14 – Russell Doubleday, American author and publisher (born 1872)
July 2 – Elsa Bernstein (Ernst Rosmer), German dramatist (born 1866)
August 2 – Hermann Grab, Bohemian German-language novelist (born 1903)
August 8 – E. H. Young, English novelist (born 1880)
August 16 – Margaret Mitchell, American novelist (road accident, born 1900))
September 4 – Herbert Eulenberg, German poet and dramatist (born 1876)
September 6 – Lucien Descaves, French novelist (born 1861)
Will Cuppy, American humorist (born 1884)
George Shiels, Irish dramatist (born 1881)
September 21 – Jorge Cáceres, Chilean poet and artist (born 1923)
October 20 – Jacques Copeau, French actor and dramatist (born 1879)
October 24 – Thomas Rowland Hughes, Welsh-language novelist, dramatist and poet (multiple sclerosis, born 1903)
December 7 – Rex Beach, American author (born 1877)
December 28 – Hervey Allen, American novelist (heart attack, born 1889)
Unknown date – Henric Streitman, Romanian essayist and journalist (born 1873)
Carnegie Medal for children's literature: Agnes Allen, The Story of Your Home
James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction: Emma Smith, The Far Cry
James Tait Black Memorial Prize for biography: John Connell, W. E. Henley
Newbery Medal for children's literature: Marguerite Henry, King of the Wind
Nobel Prize for literature: William Faulkner
Order of Merit: Bertrand Russell
Premio Nadal: Jose Suárez Carreño, Las últimas horas
Pulitzer Prize for Drama: Arthur Miller, Death of a Salesman
Pulitzer Prize for Fiction: James Gould Cozzens, Guard of Honor
Pulitzer Prize for Poetry: Peter Viereck, Terror and Decorum
V. M. Straka's fictional novel Ship of Theseus is published (as reproduced in Doug Dorst's novel S. (2013))
December – The action of J. D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye (1951) takes place
1949 in literature Wikipedia
This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1949.