The year 1656 in literature involved some significant events.
- September - performance of The Siege of Rhodes, Part I by Sir William Davenant, the "first English opera"
- November 12 - John Milton marries Katherine Woodcock.
- Baruch Spinoza is excluded from the Jewish religious community.
- In London, the Council of State, usually busy with larger matters, takes on the censorship of individual books. On April 25 it orders the Lord Mayor of the City of London to burn a volume titled Sportive Wit, or the Muses' Merriment for its "scandalous, lascivious, scurrilous, and profane matter." On May 9 an item called Choice Drollery, Songs, and Sonnets is similarly ordered destroyed.
- Two playbooks published in London in this year, The Careless Shepherdess and The Old Law, contain the first "play lists" or catalogues of published dramas ever issued in England.