Great First Lines

In beginning to read The Man of Property, I was struck by the first sentence “Those privileged to be present at a family festival of the Forsytes have seen that charming and instructive sight–an upper middle-class family in full plumage.” and it reminded me how much I enjoy interesting first sentences that kind of grab you.

One of my favorites is from Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen – “I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills”

Here are some others from “classics”.  do you have a favorite first line?

Call Me Ishmael – Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

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.

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984

You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter. —Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. —Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway

For a long time, I went to bed early. —Marcel Proust, Swann’s Way

 I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story. —Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. —Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.
—George Eliot, Middlemarch

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

In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together. —Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting. —Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage

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