Great first lines

The first line of a novel is perhaps the most important line in the book. The author will often use an unusual statement as a hook to make you want to read more. Opening lines sometimes reveal a lot about the plot and tone of the novel in just one sentence.

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” – Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

What great first lines have you read? Here are some to get you thinking, they may even inspire you to read the book.

“All children, but one, grow up”. – J. M. Barrie, Peter Pan

 “When the doorbell rings at three in the morning, it’s never good news.” – Anthony Horowitz, Stormbreaker

 “No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. ” – H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds

” It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” – George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty Four

“Where’s Papa going with that ax?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.” – E. B. White, Charlotte’s Web

 “The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say.” – Patrick Ness, The knife of never letting go

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

“We were watching the telly when we decided to rob the dentist.”  – Markus Zusak , The Underdog

“The gunman, is useless.” – Markus Zusak, The Messenger

“There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” – C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

“If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.” – Lemony Snickett, The bad beginning

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. ” – J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

“It was love at first sight.” – Joseph Heller, Catch-22

“In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” – Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.” – Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

“The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.” – William Gibson Neuromancer

 “Chris Marshall met the girl he was going to kill on a warm night in early June, when one of the colleges in Oxford was holding its summer ball.” – Philip Pullman, The butterfly tattoo

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.” – J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

“We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.” – M.T. Anderson, Feed

6 Responses to “Great first lines”

  1. A. Murphy Says:

    This is fantastic!

  2. lance.l Says:

    “It all began the day my brother and I decided to poison our mother.” – Karen Wallace, Raspberries on the Yangtze

  3. Jasmine Says:

    ‘I was six years old the first time I disappeared.’ – Jodi Picoult, Vanishing Acts

  4. WB Says:

    “I don’t die. I just get older and older and older.” – John Boyne, The Thief of Time

  5. Dylan S-G 7A Says:

    “When the doorbell rings at three in the morning, it’s never good news.”- Alex Rider-Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

  6. Shenae Says:

    “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight, from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman, and a ride home.”- S.E Hinton- the outsiders

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