Favourite First Lines

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”

Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle

“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

“It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn’t know what I was doing in New York.”

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

LP Hartley, The Go-Between

“Call me Ishmael.”

Herman Melville, Moby Dick

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

George Orwell, Nineteen Eighty-Four

“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, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

“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.”

JD Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”

Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis

“It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.”

Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers


11 thoughts on “Favourite First Lines

  1. Just do not write the book in the kitchen sink with your cell phone near water. Another A to Z post had a story about a cell phone being damaged in water, so that is just on the mind today. Of course, I wonder if there would be commodious enough kitchen sink to write in. This conjures up a funny picture in my head.

  2. I liked ‘The past is a foreign country….’ so much I used ‘A Foreign Country’ as the subtitle of my book (the heroine time-travels to mediaeval times!)

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