Answers to First Lines

“We’re going through!” The Commander’s voice was like thin ice breaking.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.....James Thurber

The first time I laid eyes on Terry Lennox he was drunk in a Rolls Royce. Super Wraith outside the terrace of The Dancers.
The Long Goodbye.....Raymond Chandler

Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover…..D H Lawrence

There were four of us – George, and William Samuel Harris, and myself, and Montmorency.
Three Men in a Boat…..Jerome K Jerome

The truth is, if old Major Dover hadn’t dropped dead at Taunton races Jim would never have come to Thursgood’s.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy…..John Le Carré

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Four shots smashed into my groin, and I was off on the greatest adventure of my life.
Sleep Till Noon....Max Shulman

During the whole of a dull, dark and soundless day in the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country…

The Fall of the House of Usher.....Edgar Allen Poe

At the first glimpse of light the aerodrome wakes to life. As a matter of fact it never sleeps.
The Wonder Book of Aircraft (about 1936).....various authors

For several successive days, the scraps and tatters of a routed army had been moving through the city. (translation)
Boule de Suif.....Guy de Maupassant

I have never begun a novel with more misgiving. If I call it a novel it is only because I don't know what else to call it. I have little story to tell and I end neither with a death nor with a marriage.
The Razor's Edge.....W Somerset Maugham

Twilight over meadow and water, the eve-star shining above the hill, and old Nog the heron crying kra-a-ark!
Tarka the Otter.....Henry Williamson

It began with an advertisement in the Agony Column of the Times. I always read the Agony Column first and the news (if there is time) afterwards.
Brazilian Adventure.....Peter Fleming

Madam, I sit down to give you an undeniable proof of my considering your desires as indispensable orders.
Fanny Hill.....John Cleland

The suburb of Saffron Park lay on the sunset side of London, as red and ragged as a cloud of sunset.
The Man Who Was Thursday.....G K Chesterton

Of course, I have no right whatsoever to write down the truth about my life, involving as it naturally does the lives of so many other people…
Portrait of a Marriage.....V. Sackville-West (edit. Nigel Nicolson)

It is doubtful whether the gift was innate. For my own part, I think it came to him suddenly.
The Man Who Could Work Miracles.....H G Wells

It is a curious thing that at my age--fifty-five last birthday-I should find myself taking up a pen to try to write a history. I wonder what sort of a history it will be when I have finished it, if ever I come to the end of the trip!
King Solomon's Mines.....H Rider Haggard

It is cold at six-forty in the morning of a March day in Paris, and it seems even colder when a man is about to be executed by firing squad.
The Day of the Jackal.....Frederick Forsyth

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. That is, my feet are in it; the rest of me is on the draining board, which I have padded with our dog's blanket and the tea-cosy.
I Capture the Castle.....Dodie Smith

The sky grew darker and darker as the morning wore on. By the time the coffee came round it was like a winter evening, and there were lights in all the windows that looked down on Hand and Ball Court.
Towards the End of the Morning.....Michael Frayn

"I wonder when in the world you're going to do anything, Rudolf?" said my brother's wife.
The Prisoner of Zenda.....Anthony Hope

Wilson sat on the balcony of the Bedford Hotel with his bald pink knees thrust against the ironwork.
The Heart of the Matter.....Graham Greene

At daybreak Billy Buck emerged from the bunkhouse and stood for a moment in the porch looking up at the sky.
The Red Pony.....John Steinbeck

I am going to take you back a matter of four or five years ago to an August afternoon and the race track at Saratoga, which is a spot in New York state very pleasant to behold.
The Lemon Drop Kid.....Damon Runyon

"The marvellous thing is that it's painless," he said, "that's how you know when it starts".
The Snows of Kilimanjaro.....Ernest Hemingway

Return to First Lines