Here’s a list of some of the most famous opening lines of books, speeches, and movies. Talk about our list or add your own items.


  • “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (The Bible)
  • “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” (A Tale of Two Cities)
  • “Call me Ishmael.” (Moby Dick)
  • “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” (Pride and Prejudice)
  • “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” (Anna Karenina)


  • “Maycomb was a tired old town, even in 1932 when I first knew it. Somehow, it was hotter then.” (To Kill a Mockingbird)
  • “Rosebud…” (Citizen Kane)
  • “I believe in America.” (The Godfather)
  • “I owe everything to George Bailey. Help him, Dear Father.” (It’s a Wonderful Life)
  • “I was 12 going on 13 the first time I saw a dead human being.” (Stand By Me)


  • “AMONG the vicissitudes incident to life no event could have filled me with greater anxieties than that of which the notification was transmitted by your order, and received on the 14th day of the present month.” (Washington, First Inaugural, 1789)
  • “When I consider the magnitude of the subject which I am to bring before the House – a subject, in which the interests, not of this country, nor of Europe alone, but of the whole world, and of posterity, are involved: and when I think, at the same time, on the weakness of the advocate who has undertaken this great cause – when these reflections press upon my mind, it is impossible for me not to feel both terrified and concerned at my own inadequacy to such a task.” (William Wilburforce, Abolition Speech, 1789)
  • “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” (Lincoln, Gettysburg Address)
  • “I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.” (Martin Luther King, Jr, “I Have a Dream”, 1963)
  • “I am the First Accused.” (Nelson Mandela, “I am prepared to die”, 1964)
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