This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1859.
- January? – Tidskrift för hemmet (Home Review), the first women's magazine in the Nordic countries, is established by Sophie Leijonhufvud and Rosalie Olivecrona in Stockholm (Sweden).
- February 1 – George Eliot's Adam Bede, her first full-length novel, is published by John Blackwood in the United Kingdom. Contemporary reviews are largely positive, describing it as "of the highest class" and "first-rate"; however, it is also accused of being the "vile outpourings of a lewd woman's mind" and circulating libraries refuse to stock it or will supply it only under the counter.
- February 4 – German scholar Constantin von Tischendorf identifies substantial portions of the mid-4th century Codex Sinaiticus (an uncial manuscript of the Greek Bible) at Saint Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai in the Khedivate of Egypt and arranges for its presentation to his patron, Tsar Alexander II of Russia at Saint Petersburg.
- April 30 – Charles Dickens's new weekly magazine All the Year Round is published for the first time in London, succeeding Household Words and containing the first serial installment of his historical novel A Tale of Two Cities.
- June–July – Frances Harper's "The Two Offers", the first English-language short story by an African American author, is published in the first volume of The Anglo-African Magazine (New York).
- September – 23-year-old Isabella Beeton's compilation Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management begins publication as a partwork supplement to The Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine (published by her husband Samuel Orchart Beeton in London) shortly after the birth of her second son.
- November 26 – Wilkie Collins's sensation novel The Woman in White, an early example of mystery fiction, begins serialization in All the Year Round.
- The first translation of Adam Mickiewicz's Polish epic poem Pan Tadeusz (1834) into a different language, Belarusian, is made by Belarusian writer and dramatist Vintsent Dunin-Martsinkyevich, in Vilnius but because of pressure from the authorities of the ruling Russian Empire he is able to publish only the first two chapters of the poem.
Children and young peopleEdit
- March 8 – Kenneth Grahame, Scottish-born children's author (died 1932)
- March 26 – A. E. Housman, English poet (died 1936)
- May 1 – Alexandru Philippide, Romanian linguist and polemicist (died 1933)
- May 2 – Jerome K. Jerome, English humorous writer (died 1927)
- May 6 – Willem Kloos, Dutch poet and critic (died 1938)
- May 22
- June 8 — Mary Cholmondeley, English writer (died 1925)
- June 10 — Jacques Perk, Dutch poet (died 1881)
- July 8 — Annie S. Swan, Scottish novelist (died 1943)
- August 4 – Knut Hamsun, Norwegian Nobel Prize–winning author (died 1952)
- August 8 – Henry Gauthier-Villars, French writer (died 1931)
- September 24 – S. R. Crockett, Scottish novelist (died 1914)
- September 26 – Irving Bacheller, American journalist and writer (died 1950)
- October 18 – Henri Bergson, French philosopher and winner of the 1927 Nobel Prize in literature (died 1941)
- November 2 – Augusta Peaux, Dutch poet (died 1944)
- December 5 – Sidney Lee (Solomon Lee), English biographer (died 1926)
- December 15 – L. L. Zamenhof, Russo-Polish initiator of Esperanto (died 1917)
- January 20 – Bettina von Arnim, German novelist (born 1785)
- January 21 – Henry Hallam, English historian (born 1777)
- January 28 – William H. Prescott, American historian (born 1796)
- February 13 – Eliza Acton, English cookery writer and poet (born 1799)
- February 27 – Thomas Kibble Hervey, Scottish-born poet and critic (born 1799)
- April 14 – Lady Morgan, Irish novelist (born c. 1781)
- April 16 – Alexis de Tocqueville, French historian and political author (tuberculosis, born 1805)
- April 29 – Dionysius Lardner, Irish scientific writer (born 1793)
- July 23 – Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, French poet (born 1786)
- September 2 – Delia Bacon, American playwright and Shakespeare scholar (born 1811)
- September 27 – Marițica Bibescu, Wallachian poet and literary patron (cancer, born 1815)
- October 4 – Karl Baedeker, German guidebook publisher (born 1801)
- November 7 – Auguste Hilarion, French politician and writer (born 1769)
- November 16 – William Spalding, Scottish writer and scholar (born 1809)
- November 20 – Mountstuart Elphinstone, Scottish historian (born 1779)
- November 28 – Washington Irving, American fiction writer, biographer and historian (born 1783)
- December 1 – John Austin, English legal philosopher (born 1790 in literature)
- December 8 – Thomas de Quincey, English essayist (born 1785)
- December 16 – Wilhelm Grimm, German collector of folk tales (born 1786)
- December 28 – Thomas Macaulay, English-born poet, historian and politician (heart attack, born 1800)