Your favourite opening lines in literature

After a huge response to our feature on great opening lines, we’ve assembled our favourite openers posted by readers


“Call me Ishmael.”

Herman Melville, Moby Dick (1851), Posted by Austin Duffy

“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 (1859), Posted by Declan Keenan and El Brujillo

“About six o’clock the sound of a motor, collected out of the wide country and narrowed under the trees of the avenue, brought the household out in excitement on to the steps.”

Elizabeth Bowen, The Last September (1929), Posted by Michael Waldron

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”

Daphne du Maurier, Rebecca (1938), Posted by Camisonup and David Russell

“Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can’t be sure.”

Albert Camus, The Stranger (1946), Posted by Greg/7billionpeople

“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 (1951), Posted by Michael White

“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 (1979), Posted by Karl Soden

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

William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984), Posted by Jarlath Costello and Bernard McGuinness

“Yer wha’?”

Roddy Doyle, The Snapper (1990), Posted by Rónan Nolan

“When I was a young lad twenty or thirty or forty years ago I lived in a small town where they were all after me on account of what I done on Mrs Nugent. “

Patrick McCabe, The Butcher Boy (1992), Posted by Billy Crave and Sean Dowling

Best original opener

Some of our readers were sceptical of revealing their openers to the masses, but of those who braved it, we liked this one the best:

“At that precise moment my father bore a striking resemblance to a vine.”

Posted by Tom McCarthy

Sign In

Forgot Password?

Sign Up

The name that will appear beside your comments.

Have an account? Sign In

Forgot Password?

Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In or Sign Up

Thank you

You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.

Hello, .

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

Thank you for registering. Please check your email to verify your account.

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.