- Change of US presidency from Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881) to James Garfield (1881)
- Change of US presidency from James Garfield (1881) to Chester A. Arthur (1881-1885)
- March 25 - Béla Bartók, Hungarian composer.
- August 6 - Sir Alexander Fleming, British discoverer of penicillin.
- October 15 - P. G. Wodehouse, British-American writer.