1787 in literature
This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1787.
- January 15 – Ann Ward marries William Radcliffe, gaining the surname by which she will be known as a writer of Gothic novels.
- April 16 – Royall Tyler's The Contrast becomes the first comedy written by an American citizen to be professionally produced, at the John Street Theatre (Manhattan).
- April 17 – The Edinburgh edition of Robert Burns' Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect is published by William Creech. It includes a Burns portrait by Alexander Nasmyth. The poet has great social success in the city's literary circles; 16-year-old Walter Scott meets him at the house of Adam Ferguson.
- June 27 – Just before midnight, Edward Gibbon completes The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in the small summerhouse in his garden in Lausanne, Switzerland.
- November 21 – François-Joseph Talma makes his professional stage debut at the Comédie-Française as Seide, in Voltaire's Mahomet.
- December 4 – Robert Burns meets Agnes Maclehose at a party given by Miss Erskine Nimmo.
- King George III of Great Britain issues a Proclamation for the Discouragement of Vice, which can be used to prosecute obscene publications.
- Friedrich Schiller arrives in Weimar.
- Elizabeth Bonhôte – Olivia, or, The Deserted Bride
- Jean-Baptiste Louvet de Couvrai – Les Amours du chevalier de Faublas
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe – The Sorrows of Young Werther (revised edition)
- Johann Jakob Wilhelm Heinse – Ardinghello and die glückseligen Inseln
- Elizabeth Helme – Louisa; or the Cottage on the Moor
- Elizabeth Sophia Tomlins – The Victim of Fancy
- Bernardin de Saint-Pierre – Paul et Virginie
- Betje Wolff and Aagje Deken – Abraham Blankaart
- François Guillaume Ducray-Duminil – Fanfan et Lolotte, ou Histoire de deux enfants abandonnés dans une île déserte (Fanfan and Lolotte, Story of Two Children Abandoned on a Desert Island)
- Pierre Beaumarchais – Tarare (opera)
- George Colman the Younger – Inkle and Yarico (comic opera)
- Germaine de Staël – Jeanne Grey
- Friedrich Schiller – Don Karlos, Infant von Spanien
- Royall Tyler – The Contrast
- Thomas Best – A Concise Treatise on the Art of Angling
- Mathurin Jacques Brisson – Pesanteur Spécifique des Corps
- Ottobah Cugoano – Thoughts and Sentiments on the Evil and Wicked Traffic of the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species
- (Sir) John Fenn (ed.) – The Paston Letters (Original letters, written during the reigns of Henry VI, Edward IV, and Richard III)
- John Hawkins – Life of Samuel Johnson
- Scots Musical Museum, vol. 1
- Mary Wollstonecraft – Thoughts on the Education of Daughters
- April 26 – Ludwig Uhland, German poet (died 1862)
- September 13 – John Adamson, English antiquary and expert on Portuguese (died 1855)
- November 4 – Edmund Kean, English actor (died 1833)
- November 21 – Bryan Procter (Barry Cornwall), English poet (died 1874)
- December 16 – Mary Russell Mitford, English novelist (died 1855)
- April 2 – Francisco Javier Clavijero, Mexican-born historian (born 1731)
- June 19 – John Brown, Scottish theologian (born 1722)
- October 28 – Johann Karl August Musäus, German satirist and children's writer (born 1735)
- October 30 – Ferdinando Galiani, Italian economist (born 1728)
- November 3 – Robert Lowth, English poet, grammarian and bishop (born 1710)
- December 19 – Soame Jenyns, English poet and essayist (born 1704)