Five great opening lines in literature

When you open a book and read the first sentence, it sets the precedence for the entire story. So here are my top five favourite opening lines...

1. Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife'.

2. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, J. K. Rowling

'Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.'

3. The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

'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.'

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4. The Fellowship of the Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien

'When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.'
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5. Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens

'Among other public buildings in a certain town; which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in the workhouse was born; on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events; the item of morality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.'

Which one is your favourite?


  1. Definitely Harry Potter. LOTR comes a close second.

  2. P&P is always a favourite but I remember reading Harry Potter in Indonesian when I was living there and liking that line particularly! Grrrr, leant it to an Balinese friend who never gave it back!!!