Source: Children Come First

It was a dark and stormy night
By staff writer, October writing contest theme information

The first line for October's writing contest is, "It was a dark and stormy night..." The contest is ongoing, with a different first line chosen each month, and is open to kids of all ages The rules are simple: Write a short story using the first line we give you and submit it to CCF.

Without doing a Google or Internet search, do you know where this first line came from? First take the following survey and then scroll down the page and read more about it.

Facts about the phrase, "It was a dark and stormy night..."
Vote and let us know what you think!
[an error occurred while processing this directive]

AFTER you vote, check more information on each of the poll questions: 

  • Question #1: NO. Even though Charles M. Schulz did write "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night, Snoopy", the phrase was not original to Schulz. [See question #4 below].
  • Question #2: YES. Nik Peachey has designed a language learning activity where students start out using the famous phrase. The activity's instructions are available online at the British Council's website.
  • Question #3: YES. NASA posted a photo of one such night in their Astronomy Picture of the Day archives where T. Credner & S. Kohle of write, "It was a dark and stormy night. But on August 29th the red planet Mars, near its closest approach to Earth in almost 60,000 years, shone brightly in the sky against a background of stars in the constellation Aquarius." [More space images available at: NASA's APOD home page].
  • Question #4: NO. "The words are actually from the 1830 novel, 'Paul Clifford' by Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, widely held to contain the worst opening sentence of any novel in the English language." []
  • Question #5: YES. Since 1982, The Department of Englisn & Comparative Literature at San Jose State University in California has sponsored the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest where entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences.
  • Question #6: NO. The phrase was original to Bulwer-Lytton, as mentioned in question #4 above. We're using the phrase as the first line of our online writing contest this month.
  • Question #7: YES. Chris Vollmer, one of our site's visitors, wrote us saying, "The phrase is also the first line in the Newbery Award Winner of 1963, A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeline L'Engle.
© 1998-2008 Children Come First. All rights reserved.

Top of Page