It Was A Dark And Stormy Night
|The Author at Work|
It was a dark and stormy night.
Suddenly, a shot rang out!
A door slammed. The maid screamed.
Suddenly, a pirate ship appeared on the horizon!
While millions of people were starving, the king lived
Meanwhile, on a small farm in Kansas, a boy was
A light snow was falling, and the little girl with the
(1) The first 'dark and stormy night' was conjured up by the English Victorian novelist, playwright and politician who rejoiced in the name of Sir Edward George Earle Bulwer-Lytton, 1st Baron Lytton. It has become synonymous with the Victorian melodramatic style, of which Bulwer-Lytton's many works provide numerous examples. This style has long been out of fashion and considered kitsch and risible. So much so that, since 1982, an annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest has been sponsored by the English Department of San José State University, California. Contestants are required "to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels".
Bulwer-Lytton's own florid pre-contest attempt, in his novel Paul Clifford, 1830, began:
"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 housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."