Top 10 Opening Lines

Once again an interesting snippet has crossed my virtual desk, this time it is a top 10 list.  And I’m sure you can see that I just love lists.
According to Robert McCrum in The Observer, these are the top 10 opening lines in fiction.

At the number one position:

“Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”
James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)

Number 2.

“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 (1813)

Number 3.

“There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.”
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847)

Number 4.

“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. That book was made by a Mr Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly.”
Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884)

Number 5.

“Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French.”
PG Wodehouse, The Luck of the Bodkins (1935)

Number 6.

“It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.”
Anthony Burgess, Earthly Powers (1980)

Number 7.

“I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.”
Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle (1948)

Number 8.

“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)

Number 9.

“The snow in the mountains was melting and Bunny had been dead for several weeks before we came to understand the gravity of our situation.”
– Donna Tartt, The Secret History (1992)

Number 10.

“Squire Trelawnay, Dr Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17– and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof.”
Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island (1883)

What do you think?  Are they your best opening lines, or do you have other favourites you would like to share with us?


4 thoughts on “Top 10 Opening Lines

  1. Ange May 7, 2012 / 2:55 pm

    Ha, love number 5!

    • Ms Oh Waily May 7, 2012 / 6:00 pm

      I have a very big soft spot for P.G.Wodehouse, so I agree totally with you.

  2. inspirationalreads May 7, 2012 / 10:17 pm

    Yes, that number 5 is a goody. I am a die-hard Austen fan, so number 2 is my favourite on the list.
    I adored Farenheit 451 and if I think of a line that has stuck with me, it is definitely this one from it “…for who knows who will be the target of a well read man?”

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