First Lines of Well-Known Books

For a workshop last week, I was making a list of first lines from well-known books, and I thought it might be fun to put them in a blog as a sort of fun quiz. I’ll share the answers at the very, very bottom of this post, and if you enjoyed this challenge, there are some  more over on my Facebook page.


Good luck!

1  “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

2  “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in need of a wife.”

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

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

5  “It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain, he fell madly in love with him.”

6  “All children, except one, grow up.”

7  “It was the day my grandmother exploded.”

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

9  “I am an invisible man.”

10  “This is the saddest story I have ever heard.”


11  “It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not.”

12  “It was a pleasure to burn.”

13  “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”

14  “Kidnapping children is never a good idea; all the same, sometimes it has to be done.”

15  “Where’s Papa going with that axe?”

16  ‘“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,’ grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.”

17  “Johnny never knew for certain why he started seeing the dead.”

18  “The Iron Man came to the top of the cliff. How far had he walked? Nobody knows. Where had he come from? Nobody knows.”

19  “If you went too near the edge of the chalk-pit the ground would give way. Barney had been told this often enough.”

20  “When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind.”


And the answers…..

are right

down here

so you

don’t accidentally




  1. A tale of two cities – Dickens
  2. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  3. 1984 – Orwell
  4. Metamorphosis – Franz Kafka
  5. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
  6. Peter Pan – JM Barrie
  7. The Crow Road – Iain Banks
  8. The Stranger – Albert Camus
  9. Invisible Man – Ralph Ellison
  10. The Good Soldier – Ford Madox Ford
  11. City of Glass – Paul Auster
  12. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
  13. I Capture the Castle – Dodie Smith
  14. Island of the Aunts, Eva Ibbotson
  15. Charlotte’s Web – EB White
  16. Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
  17.  Johnny and the Dead – Terry Pratchett.
  18.  The Iron Man – Ted Hughes
  19.  Stig of the Dump – Clive King
  20.  The Outsiders – SE Hinton



    How many did you manage without googling?



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