It Was a Dark and Stormy Night
A while back a book on the library shelf caught my eye: 15,003 Answers: The Ultimate Trivia Encyclopedia, 2nd edition. Just imagine how many family arguments could be settled at the Thanksgiving table if you had this book handy. Having given it a quick perusal, I found a section with the first lines of famous works. Do you know where these are from? (Answers below, no peeking).
Easy, easier, and easiest…just to get you warmed up:
1. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
3. Call me Ishmael.
OK? Try these:
4. Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
5. The great fish moved silently through the night water, propelled by short sweeps of its crescent tail.
6. Marley was dead, to begin with.
7. Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.
8. All children except one, grow up.
9. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.
10. Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.
Gee, that was fun. More? Here we go:
11. 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.
12. All this happened, more or less.
13. It was a pleasure to burn.
14. Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, `and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice `without pictures or conversation?’
15. To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.
16. Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids.
17. When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.
18. “Where’s Papa going with that ax?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.
19. Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.
20. 124 was spiteful.
21. The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended.
22. When Mary Lennox was sent to Misselthwaite Manor to live with her uncle everybody said she was the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen.
23. No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinized the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.
24. As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.
And, last but not least:
25. It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents–except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
- Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
- Moby Dick by Herman Melville
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
- Jaws by Peter Benchley
- A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
- Ulysses by James Joyce (not Homer)
- Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
- The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
- Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
- The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
- The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
- Paul Clifford by Edward George Bulwar-Lytton
Next time…famous last lines!