Ten great opening lines in literature

These are some of our favourite opening lines - could you write one of your own? Post it in the comment box below. We might even find a suitable prize for the best or funniest


Miss Brooke

had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.”

George Eliot





2. "All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1878)



Gregor Samsa

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

Franz Kafka

, Metamorphosis


4. "Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo."
James Joyce, A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man (1916)


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

George Orwell

, Nineteen Eighty-Four


6. "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 (1963)


“They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did.”

Jean Rhys


Wide Sargasso Sea


8. "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice."
Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967)


“124 was spiteful. Full of a baby’s venom.”

Toni Morrison




10. "It was the day my grandmother exploded."
Iain Banks, The Crow Road (1992)