1731 in literature
This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1731.
- January 1 – The Gentleman's Magazine: or, Trader's monthly intelligencer is launched by Edward Cave in London.
- July 1 – Benjamin Franklin and fellow-subscribers start the Library Company of Philadelphia.
- August 20 – The Hollandsche Spectator is launched by Justus van Effen in Amsterdam.
- October 23 – Fire at Ashburnham House in London damages the nationally-owned Cotton library, housed here at this time. The librarian, Dr. Bentley, leaps from a window with the priceless Codex Alexandrinus under one arm. The original manuscripts of Asser's Life of King Alfred (9th century) and The Battle of Maldon (Old English) are destroyed; the 5th-century 'Cotton Genesis' is largely destroyed; the unique manuscript of Beowulf is damaged but saved.
- The life and revelations of Austrian Beguine Agnes Blannbekin (died 1315) are published from her religious confessions for the first time as Venerabilis Agnetis Blannbekin but all copies are confiscated by the Society of Jesus.
- Alexander Pope completes the original writing of his poem An Essay on Man with the first two "Epistles: Of the Nature and State of Man, with Respect to" (1) "The Universe" and (2) "Himself as an Individual" (the third and fourth are written and published in 1733/34).
- Jesuit father Joseph Henri Marie de Prémare translates The Orphan of Zhao (13th century) into French as L'Orphelin de la Maison de Tchao, the first Chinese play to have been translated into any European language.
- Thomas Bayes – Divine Benevolence
- Samuel Boyse – Translations and Poems Written on Several Subjects
- Ralph Cudworth – A Treatise Concerning Eternal and Immutable Morality (posthumous)
- Robert Dodsley
- An Epistle from a Footman in London to the Celebrated Stephen Duck
- A Sketch of the Miseries of Poverty
- Aaron Hill – Advice to the Poets
- William Law – The Case of Reason
- William Oldys – A Dissertation Upon Pamphlets
- Arabella Plantin – Love Led Astray (Or, the Mutual Inconstancy)
- Alexander Pope – An Epistle to the Right Honourable Richard Earl of Burlington (also Epistle to Burlington, and to contemporaries as Of False Taste)
- Abbé Prévost – Manon Lescaut
- Elizabeth Rowe – Letters Moral and Entertaining
- Jean Terrasson – Life of Sethos
- Jethro Tull – The New Horse-Houghing Husbandry, or, An essay on the principles of tillage and vegetation wherein is shewn, a method of introducing a sort of vineyard-culture into the corn-fields, to increase their product, and diminish the common expence, by the use of instruments lately invented by Jethro Tull
- Diego de Torres Villarroel – Barca de Aqueronte
- Matthew Concanen, Edward Roome, & Sir William Yonge – The Jovial Crew (opera, adapted from Richard Brome's A Jovial Crew)
- Theophilus Cibber – The Lover
- Charles Coffey & John Mottley – The Devil to Pay (musical adaptation of the play by Thomas Jevon)
- Thomas Cooke – The Triumphs of Love and Honour
- Henry Fielding
- The Tragedy of Tragedies; or, The Life and Death of Tom Thumb
- The Letter-Writers
- Philip Frowde – Philotas
- Aaron Hill – Athelwold
- Charles Johnson – The Tragedy of Medea
- George Lillo
- The London Merchant
- George Barnwell
- David Mallet – Eurydice
- James Ralph – The Fall of the Earl of Essex
- February 4 – Mary Deverell, English religious writer, essayist and poet (died 1805)
- November 25 – Gustaf Fredrik Gyllenborg, Swedish writer (died 1808)
- November 26 – William Cowper, English poet and cleric (died 1800)
- December 12 – Erasmus Darwin, English naturalist, natural philosopher and poet (died 1802)
- February 20 – Frances Norton, Lady Norton, English poet and religious writer (born c. 1644)
- c. April 24 – Daniel Defoe, English novelist and travel writer (born c. 1660)
- May 11 – Mary Astell, English protofeminist writer (born 1666)
- June 20 – Ned Ward (Edward Ward), English satirist and publican (born 1667)
- December 26 – Antoine Houdar de la Motte, French dramatist (born 1672)
- Unknown date – Mohammed ibn Zakri al-Fasi, Moroccan poet, mystic and theologian (year of birth unknown)