46 Great Opening Lines: 37

1801 – I have just returned from a visit to my landlord – the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with. Opening line, Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë, 1847 A dark novel with not one happy moment. At least not for me. I’ve read it twice without pleasure. Still, the opening line is worth studying… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 36

My brother Jack does not come into the story straight away. Opening line, My Brother Jack, George Johnston, 1964 A great first line that lets the reader know he’ll have to read on for a while before encountering the man of the title, Jack. It’s a story about an Australian bloke who is a likeable… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 35

The rabbits came many grandparents ago. First line, The Rabbits, John Marsden, 1998 The phrase ‘many grandparents ago’ is a brilliant way of defining time for Australian descendants of immigrants. For me, it’s a great opener to an unsettling story. The Rabbits is a fable about two things multiplying prolifically in this country: rabbits and… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 34

There was a desert wind blowing that night. Opening line, Red Wind, Raymond Chandler, 1938 Dennis Aubrey at Via Lucis commented that his favourite opening line is this one from the short story Red Wind. It’s somewhat relevant today with the wind howling outside my window. Not that’s it’s a desert wind. More of an inland… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 33

To rear a boy under what parents call the ‘sheltered life’ system is, if the boy must go into the world and fend for himself, not wise. Opening line, Thrown Away, Rudyard Kipling, 1890 In this beginning there’s a hint about the ending. The story comes in a little black Penguin book, The Gate of… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 32

Tuesday, July 23rd. – Am aroused by violent knocking at the door in the early gray dawn – so violent that two large centipedes and a scorpion drop on to the bed. First line of A Hippo Banquet by Mary Kingsley, 1897 This is the first line of the first story in a small book,… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 31

It was late, and Holofernes’ guests quickly withdrew. Bagoas closed the tent from the outside, dismissed the attendants, and everyone went to their lodgings to sleep, tired from too much drinking. Holofernes had collapsed onto his bed, completely drunk. Judith was left alone with him in the tent. Opening of Chapter 13 of the Book… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 30

I am Patrick, a sinner, most unlearned, the least of all the faithful, and utterly despised by many. Opening line of St Patrick’s Confession, translated from the Latin by Ludwig Bieler, 1950. Today is St Patrick’s Day, 17th March, so I looked up St Patrick’s Confession and was surprised to learn in these very first… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 29

If an anaconda bites your hand – as, no doubt, one someday will – gulps your fist whole and holds fast, fight the keen urge to yank back. Really. Opening line, Emergency Instructions: If an Anaconda Bites Your Hand, David Macey This is the first line of a short short story, perhaps it’s called flash… Continue reading


46 Great Opening Lines: 28

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Opening line, Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell, 1949 From the last word of the first line, Orwell has us in his hands with not just one clock but all clocks striking thirteen. I thought about Nineteen Eighty-Four when writing my last post… Continue reading