30 Great Opening Lines in Literature

You are currently viewing 30 Great Opening Lines in Literature

Taking the first step of anything or starting something is very hard and there are no exceptions for writers when they try to write their first lines or the opening sentence of their book.

The opening lines of a story play a very important role in setting the tone for the whole book and give a little clue to the readers about what they should expect from the story.

Related: 50 Best Last Lines of Books

So, we have gathered for you the popular opening lines of the famous books written by some of the renounced authors, which will help you to better understand the way of grabbing your reader’s attention at the first sight of your book.

This list also contains the second lines of the popular stories, which will help you to understand how to take your second step and begin narrating the story.

Let’s have a look at the opening lines of some of the popular books of all time.

30 Great Opening (First & Second) Lines in Literature

1. Pride and Prejudice

By Jane Austen

pride and prejudice book cover

First line- It is a truth universally acknowledge, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.

Second line- However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.

Opening lines of Pride and Prejudice

2. To Kill a Mockingbird

By Harper Lee

to kill a mockingbird book cover

First line- When he was nearly thirteen, my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

Second line- When it healed, and Jem’s fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury.

Opening lines of To Kill a Mockingbird

3. The Great Gatsby 

By F.Scott Fitzgerald

the great gatsby book cover

First line- In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.

Second line- ”Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, ”just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”

Opening lines of The Great Gatsby

4. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

By J. K Rowling 

harry-potter and the philosopher's stone book cover

 First line- Mr and Mrs Dursley of number four, Private Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

Second line- They were the last people you’d expect to be involved in anything strange or mysterious, because they just didn’t hold with such nonsense.

Opening lines of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

5. Fahrenheit 451

By Ray Bradbury

fahrenheit 451 book cover

 First line- It was a pleasure to burn.

Second line- It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed.

Opening lines of Fahrenheit 451

6. David Copperfield

By Charles Dickens

david copperfield book cover

First line- Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.

Second line- To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born (as I have been informed and believe) on a Friday, at twelve o’clock at night.

Opening lines of David Copperfield

7. The Lion, the witch, and the wardrobe

By C. S Lewis

the lion the witch and the wardrobe book cover

First line- Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy.

Second line- This story is about something that happened to them when they were sent away from London during the war because of the air-raids.

Opening lines of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

8. War and Peace

By Leo Tolstoy

war and peace book cover

First line- ”Well, Prince, so Genoa and Lucca are now just family estates of the Buonapartes.

Second line- But I warn you, if you don’t tell me that this means war, if you still try to defend the infamies and horrors perpetrated by that Antichrist – I really believe he is Antichrist – I will have nothing more to do with you and you are no longer my friend, no longer my ‘faithful slave’, as you call yourself! But how do you do? I see I have frightened you – sit down and tell me all the news.”

Opening lines of War and Peace

9. The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn

By Mark Twain

the adventure of huckleberrry finn book cover

First line- You don’t know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventure of Tom Sawyer; but that ain’t no matter.

Second line- That book was made by Mark Twain, and he told the truth, mainly.

Opening lines of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

10. Moby Dick

By Herman Melville

moby dick book cover

First line- Call me Ishmael.

Second line- Some years ago – never mind how long precisely – having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world.

Opening lines of Moby Dick


11. Middlemarch

By George Eliot

middlemarch book cover

First line- Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.

Second line- Her hand and wrist were so finely formed that she could wear sleeves not less bare of style than those in which the Blesses Virgin appeared to Italian painters;…

Opening lines of Middlemarch

12. Anna Karenina

By Leo Tolstoy

anna karenina book cover

First line- Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Second line- Everything was in confusion in the Oblonskys’ house.

Opening lines of Anna Karenina

13. 1984

By George Orwell

1984 by george orwell book cover

First line- It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Second line- Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him.

Opening lines of 1984

14. To the Lighthouse

By Virginia Woolf

to the lighthouse book cover

First line- ‘Yes, of course, if it’s fine tomorrow,’ said Mrs. Ramsay.

Second line- ‘But you’ll have to be up with the lark,’ she added

Opening lines of To the Lighthouse

15. Wuthering Heights

By Emily Bronte

wuthering heights book cover

First line- 1801′ – I have just returned from a visit to my landlord – the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.

Second line- This is certainly a beautiful country! In all England, I do not believe that I could have fixed on a situation so completely removed from the stir of society.

Opening lines of Wuthering Heights

16. The Hobbit

By J.R.R Tolkien

the hobbit book cover

First line- IN A HOLE in the ground there lived a hobbit.

Second line- Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole filled with the ends of worms and an a oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.

Opening lines of The Hobbit

17. The Metamorphosis

By Franz Kafka

the metamorphosis book cover

First line- One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dream, he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.

Second line- He lay on his armour-like back, belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections.

Opening lines of The Metamorphosis

18. Life of Pi

By Yann Martel

life of pi book cover

First line- My suffering left me sad and gloomy.

Second line- Academic study and the steady, mindful practice of religion slowely brought me back to life.

Opening lines of Life of Pi

19. Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Bronte

jane eyre book cover

First line- There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.

Second line- We had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds, so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question.

Opening lines of Jane Eyre

20. The Alchemist

By Paulo Coelho

the alchemist book cover

First line- The boy name was Santiago.

Second line- Dusk was falling as the boy arrived with his herd at an abandoned church.

Opening lines of The Alchemist

21. Charlotte’s Web

By E.B White

charlottes web book cover

First line- ‘Where’s Papa going with that axe?’ said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.

Second line- ‘Out to the hoghouse,’ replied Mrs Arable.

Opening lines of Charlotte’s Web

22. Great Expectations

By Charles Dickens

great expectations book cover

First line- My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip.

Second line- So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.

Opening lines of Great Expectations

23. The Lord of the Rings

By J.R.R Tolkien

the-lord-of-the-rings book cover

First line- 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 the Hobbiton.

Second line- Bilbo was very rich and very peculiar, and had been the wonder of the shire for sixty years, even since his remarkable disappearance and unexpected return.

Opening lines of The Lord of The Rings

24. The Catcher in the Rye

By J.D Salinger

the catcher in the rye book cover

First line- 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.

Second line- In the first place, that stuff bored me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them.

Opening lines of The Catcher in the Rye

25. The Faults in our Stars

By John Green

the faults in our starts book cover

First line- Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.

Second line- Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer.

Opening lines of The Fault In Our Starts

26. The Hungers Game

By Suzanne Collins

the hunger games book cover

First line- When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold.

Second line- My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas of the mattress.

Opening lines of The Hunger Game

27. Animal Farm

By George Orwell

animal farm book cover

First line- Mr. Jones, of the Manor Farm, had locked the hen-houses for the night, but was too drunk to remember to shut the popholes.

Second line- With the ring of light from his lantern dancing from side to side, he lurched across the yard, kicked off his boots at the back door, drew himself a large glass of beer from the barrel in the scullery, and made his way up to bed, where Mrs. Jones was already snoring.

Opening lines of Animal Farm

28. Little Women

Louisa May Alcott

little women book cover

First line- ‘Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents’, grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.

Second line- ‘It’s so dreadful to be poor!’ sighed Meg, looking down at her old dress.

Opening lines of Little Women

29. And Then There Were None

By Agatha Christie

and then there where none book cover

First line- In the corner of a first-class smoking carriage, Mr Justice Wargrave, lately retired from the bench, puffed at a cigar and ran an interested eye through the political news in The Times.

Second line- He laid the paper down and glanced out of the window.

Opening lines of And Then There Were None

30. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

By Lewis Carroll

alice in wonderland book cover

First line- 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 conversations?”

Second line- So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the hot day made her feel very sleepy and stupid) whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.

Opening lines of Alice In Wonderland

Neel Rana

About the Author- Neel Rana is a young adult fiction writer and children’s book author. He is a literary enthusiast and the founder of Pandora Post. Neel holds a degree in BA Honors in English Literature and has been writing since 2017. His magnum opus YA short storybook, “The Drunken Ghost” has been well received by the readers.