This article presents lists of literary events and publications in 1860.
- January 28 – The first of Charles Dickens' literary sketches under the general title of The Uncommercial Traveller is published in his magazine All the Year Round.
- February – Mary Elizabeth Braddon gives up her acting career to write. In the same year, she meets her future husband John Maxwell.
- March 27 – The Irish melodrama The Colleen Bawn, or The Brides of Garryowen, written by and starring Dion Boucicault, is first performed at Miss Laura Keene's theatre, New York.
- April 4 – George Eliot's novel The Mill on the Floss is published by John Blackwood in three volumes.
- June 9 – Ann S. Stephens' Malaeska: The Indian Wife of the White Hunter, a tale of the American frontier, becomes the first dime novel when it is published in cheap paperback book format by Irwin P. Beadle & Co. in New York City, to initiate the Beadle's Dime Novels series.
- June 30 – 1860 Oxford evolution debate: Samuel Wilberforce and Thomas Huxley debate the theories of Charles Darwin at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. Lewis Carroll is among the audience.
- August 25 – Wilkie Collins' sensation novel The Woman in White, an early example of mystery fiction, concludes its serialization in the magazine All the Year Round. It is published in book form in London around August 15.
- c. September 3 – Charles Dickens burns most of his private papers at his home in Kent, Gads Hill Place, where he has taken up regular residence this year.
- December 1 – Charles Dickens's Bildungsroman Great Expectations begins serialization in his magazine All the Year Round.
- Alexander Bain is appointed to the chair of logic and English literature at the University of Aberdeen.
- Vasil Drumev, later Metropolitan Kliment of Tarnovo and Prime Minister of Bulgaria, publishes the first original story in the Bulgarian language, "A Woeful Family" (Nešastna familiya), in the journal Bâlgarski knižitsi (Istanbul).
- Andreas Munch becomes the first person to be granted a poet's pension by the Parliament of Norway.
- January 10 – Charles G. D. Roberts, Canadian poet (died 1943)
- January 29 – Anton Chekhov, Russian short story writer, novelist and dramatist (died 1904)
- February 11 – Rachilde (Marguerite Vallette-Eymery), French author (died 1953)
- April 8 – Catherine Isabella Dodd, English education writer and novelist (died 1932)
- April 9 – Ellen Thorneycroft Fowler, English writer of romances and children's books (died 1929)
- May 9 – J. M. Barrie, Scottish-born novelist and dramatist (died 1937)
- June 1 – Hugh Thomson, Irish-born illustrator (died 1920)
- June 6 – William Inge, English theologian (died 1954)
- July 3 – Charlotte Perkins Gilman, American novelist, short story writer and social reformer (died 1935)
- July 7 – Abraham Cahan, American Jewish journalist and novelist (died 1951)
- July 14 – Owen Wister, American Western fiction writer and historian (died 1938)
- July 18 – Herbert Kelly, English religious writer and cleric (died 1950)
- August 18 – Kristína Royová, Slovak novelist, religious writer and poet (died 1936)
- September 13 – Ralph Connor, Canadian novelist (died 1937)
- September 14 – Hamlin Garland, American novelist, poet and essayist (died 1940)
- October 6 – Rosamund Marriott Watson, born Rosamund Ball and writing as Graham R. Tomson, English poet (died 1911)
- October 23 – Molly Elliot Seawell, American novelist and dramatist (died 1916)
- December 11 – Leonard Huxley, English writer and editor (died 1933)
- Unknown date – Harriet Theresa Comstock, American children's author (died 1925)
- January 29 – Ernst Moritz Arndt, German poet (born 1769)
- February 9 – William Evans Burton, English dramatist, theatre manager and publisher (born 1804)
- February 25 – Chauncey Allen Goodrich, American lexicographer (born 1790)
- March 17 – Anna Brownell Jameson, Irish-born essayist, travel writer and editor (born 1794)
- May 9 – Samuel Griswold Goodrich (Peter Parley), American children's author (born 1793)
- May 16 – Anne Isabella Byron, Baroness Byron, English memoirist (born 1792)
- May 23 – Albert Richard Smith, English journalist and humorist (bronchitis, born 1816)
- August 25
- September 21 – Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (born 1788)
- December 2 – Ferdinand Christian Baur, German theologian (born 1792)
- December 11 – Anne Knight, English children's writer and educationist (born 1792)