Famous First Lines in Novels Quiz



By: Staff

5 Min Quiz

Image: refer to hsw

About This Quiz

Calling all bookworms: How well do you know literature? We'll give you the first line of a novel, and you have to choose the book it comes from. Put your skills to the test, and take this quiz on memorable literary sentences.

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

"Thoughtcrime" is a real problem in "Nineteen Eighty-Four," George Orwell's terrifying and dark novel, which consistently ranks as one of the best of the 20th century.


"The past is a foreign country: They do things differently there."

This 1953 novel, "The Go-Between," is by far the best-known book by L.P. Hartley.


"All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."

Divided into eight parts, "Anna Karenina" is considered one of the strongest novels by Leo Tolstoy.


"Elmer Gantry was drunk. He was eloquently drunk, lovingly and pugnaciously drunk."

Hypocrisy takes center stage in Sinclair Lewis' "Elmer Gantry," a collision of morality and human nature.


"It was the day my grandmother exploded."

Scotland becomes a bewitching and wonderful place in "The Crow Road," an ominous and funny look at human life.


"There was no possibility of taking a walk that day."

"Jane Eyre," an 1847 novel by Charlotte Bronte, followed the ups and downs of the life of a dynamic woman named Jane.


"The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new."

Published in 1938, "Murphy" was Samuel Beckett's exploration of a weird guy named Murphy who hangs out alone in the dark and befriends hookers.


“As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”

But what sort of vermin did he turn into? You'll have to read Franz Kafka's "Metamorphosis" to find out.


"Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea."

Henry James' "The Portrait of a Lady" was published as a serial in the 1880s.


"A screaming comes across the sky."

Thomas Pynchon published the post-World War II novel "Gravity's Rainbow" in 1973.


"This is the saddest story I have ever heard."

Honor and duty are explored in "The Good Soldier," written by Ford Madox Ford in 1915.


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

Written by George Eliot, "Middlemarch" is made up of eight installments from the early 1870s.


"Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed."

Eighteen episodes make up "Ulysses," the groundbreaking novel by James Joyce.


"I have never begun a novel with more misgiving."

Published during World War II, "The Razor's Edge" portrays a World War I veteran suffering from trauma and looking for meaning in his life.


"It was love at first sight. The first time Yossarian saw the chaplain he fell madly in love with him."

The black humor of "Catch-22" made Joseph Heller one of the most highly regarded authors of the past century.


"Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I've come to learn, is women."

Charles Johnson writes of a man who unwittingly boards a slave ship to avoid a forced marriage in "Middle Passage."


"Mother died today. Or maybe, yesterday; I can't be sure."

Be sure to cry at your own mother's funeral … or else. That is one of the lessons of "The Stranger" by Albert Camus.


"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 wrote just one novel, a bleak book called "The Bell Jar," before she committed suicide.


"I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking."

Published in 1939, "Goodbye to Berlin" is a portrait of the German people just before they are swept into World War II.


"All children, except one, grow up."

Neverland became a world-famous place thanks to J.M. Barrie's "Peter Pan."


"It was inevitable: The scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love."

The Spanish-language novel "Love in the Time of Cholera" was published in English in 1988.


"They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did."

Jean Rhys used "Wide Sargasso Sea" to explore themes of inequality in society and relationships.


"You better not never tell nobody but God. It'd kill your mammy.”

Alice Walker analyzed the oppression of Southern black women in 1982's "The Color Purple."


“The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting."

"The Red Badge of Courage" provided ugly realism to the American Civil War experience and brought fame to author Stephen Crane.


"They shoot the white girl first."

Convent residents and Oklahoman men begin a twisted clash in Toni Morrison's "Paradise."


"I write this sitting in the kitchen sink."

Before Dodie Smith became famous for "The Hundred and One Dalmatians," she wrote "I Capture the Castle."


"Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board."

A black woman named Janie Crawford throws off the bonds of racial inequality in "Their Eyes Were Watching God."


“They’re out there. Black boys in white suits up before me to commit sex acts in the hall and get it mopped up before I can catch them.”

Ken Kesey's strange "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was made into a hugely successful movie in 1975.


"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."

"David Copperfield" opens with one of the most powerful lines ever summoned by Charles Dickens.


"A green hunting cap squeezed the top of a fleshy balloon of a head."

John Toole killed himself before his outrageously hilarious "A Confederacy of Dunces" became recognized as a lasting work of art.


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