“It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness.”
These are the first lines of the classic book Paul Clifford that was written in 1830 by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. It tells the life of Paul Clifford, a man who leads a dual life as both a criminal and an upscale gentleman. Though "Clifford" is rarely read among the general reading public today, it contains one of the most widely known openings in English literary history: "It was a dark and stormy night", which isn’t the complete first sentence but is frequently invoked for its atmospheric and neo-Gothic description, often in the mystery, detective, horror, and thriller genres.
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