This article contains information about the literary events and publications of 1678.
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- February – English dramatist Thomas Otway, perhaps escaping from an unhappy love affair with his leading actress, obtains a commission in an English regiment serving in the Franco-Dutch War and is sent in July to Flanders.
- February 18 – The first part of English nonconformist John Bunyan's Christian allegory The Pilgrim's Progress, partly written while he was imprisoned for unlicensed preaching, is published in London.
- March – The novel La Princesse de Clèves, presumed to be by Madame de La Fayette, is published in Paris. It is set in 1558–1559 and an early example of a psychological novel.
- November – The English printer Joseph Moxon becomes the first tradesman to be elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of London.
- Manuel Ambrosio de Filguera – Si sea lícito hacer los autos sacramentales en las iglesias
- John Barret – The Christian Temper, or, A Discourse Concerning the Nature and Properties of the Graces of Sanctification
- Jacob Boehme – Mysterium Magnum, oder Erkärung über das Erste Buch Mosis (Amsterdam & Frankfurt; contains a portrait of Boehme by N. van Werd)
- John Bunyan – The Pilgrim's Progress
- Ralph Cudworth – The True Intellectual System of the Universe
- Madame de La Fayette (anonymously) – La Princesse de Clèves
- Sir Thomas Herbert – Threnodia Carolina
- Thomas Hobbes – Decameron Physiologicum
- Josiah King – The Examination and Trial of Old Father Christmas Together with his Clearing by the Jury
- The Mowing-Devil: or, Strange News out of Hartford-Shire (a woodcut showing what is alleged to be the first crop circle)
- The Works of Geber, Englished by Richard Russell.
- Thomas Rymer – The Tragedies of the Last Age Considered
- Jacob Spon – Voyage d'Italie, de Dalmatie, de Grèce et du Levant
- Aernout van Overbeke – De rym-wercken
- John Banks – The Destruction of Troy
- Aphra Behn – Sir Patient Fancy
- William Chamberlayne – Wits Led by the Nose, or a Poet's Revenge published
- Thomas Corneille – Le Comte d'Essex
- John Dryden
- Thomas d'Urfey
- Edward Howard – The Man of Newmarket
- Nathaniel Lee – Mithridates, King of Pontus
- John Leanerd
- Thomas Otway – Friendship in Fashion
- Samuel Pordage – The Siege of Babylon
- Edward Ravenscroft – The English Lawyer (adapted from George Ruggle's Latin play Ignoramus)
- Thomas Rawlins – Tunbridge Wells
- Titus Andronicus, or the Rape of Lavinia (adapted from Shakespeare's play)
- Thomas Shadwell
- The History of Timon of Athens the Man-Hater
- A True Widow
- Nahum Tate – Brutus of Alba
- January 10 – Paul Gabriel Antoine, French theologian (died 1743)
- July – Thomas Hearne, editor of medieval manuscripts (died 1735)
- December 14 – Daniel Neal, English historian (died 1743)
- Unknown dates
- January 16 – Madeleine de Souvré, marquise de Sablé, French writer and salonnière (born 1599)
- March 10 – Jean de Launoy, French historian (born 1603)
- April 12 – Sir Thomas Stanley, English poet, writer and translator (born 1625)
- May 4 – Abraham Woodhead, English Catholic writer (born 1609)
- May 14 or 15 – Anna Maria van Schurman, Dutch poet and scholar (born 1607)
- August 16 – Andrew Marvell, English poet and politician (born 1621)
- August 17 – Guillaume Herincx, Netherlandish theologian (born 1621)
- November 21 – Robert Thoroton, English antiquary (born 1623)
- Unknown date – Theophilus Gale, English theologian (born 1628)
- Probable date – Richard Flecknoe English dramatist and poet (born c. 1600)
- "The copy for the first edition of the First Part of The Pilgrim's Progress was entered in the Stationers' Register on 22 December 1677 ... The book was licensed and entered in the Term Catalogue for the following Hilary Term, 18 February 1678; this date would customarily indicate the time of publication, or only slightly precede it" [John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress, James Blanton Wharey and Roger Sharrock, eds., Second Edition, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960), xxi].
- Thomas Hobbes (May 1997). A Dialogue Between a Philosopher and a Student of the Common Laws of England. University of Chicago Press. p. 1. ISBN 978-0-226-34541-3.
- Samuel L. Macey (1 September 2010). Patriarchs of Time: Dualism in Saturn-Cronus, Father Time, the Watchmaker God, and Father Christmas. University of Georgia Press. p. 155. ISBN 978-0-8203-3797-5.
- Copeland, Nancy (2003). "Review of The Theatre of Aphra Behn". The Journal of English and Germanic Philology. 102 (3): 442–444. JSTOR 27712366.