100 Literary Jeopardy Clues from Real Episodes of Jeopardy!

Play with Your Friends

It’s officially time to socialize again. But maybe . . . you’ve forgotten how? Here’s one way to break the ice/pass the time/celebrate your vaccinations with your book-reading friends: organize a day of literary Jeopardy!. (You can also just play by yourself, right here, right now.) To facilitate, I combed through this insane archive of every game of Jeopardy! ever played (YEP) and picked out 100 literary questions of varying difficulties. (You may notice that all of these clues are from the first 9 seasons (1984-1993), for no reason other than that’s how long it took me, haphazardly clicking through, to find 100 interesting ones. Test your brain (and your friends) below.

Reveal the correct “questions” (ie the answers, if you’re not familiar with Jeopardy!) by highlighting the space after Question: (a triple click will also do it).

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Show #9 – Thursday, September 20, 1984

Answer: Pasternak’s Moscow medic

Question: Who is Dr. Zhivago?

Show #11 – Monday, September 24, 1984

Answer: Completes the line “If music be the food of love…”

Question: What is “play on”?

Answer: Hamlet’s closest friend, only major character left alive at play’s end

Question: Who is Horatio?

Show #13 – Wednesday, September 26, 1984

Answer: Long-time companion of Dashiell Hammett, she was played in “Julia” by Jane Fonda

Question: Who is Lillian Hellman?

Show #18 – Wednesday, October 3, 1984

Answer: Sophocles’ “complex tragedy”

Question: What is Oedipus Rex?

Show #19 – Thursday, October 4, 1984

Answer: Its sequels were “Men against the Sea” & “Pitcairn’s Island”

Question: What is Mutiny on the Bounty?

Show #141 – Monday, March 25, 1985

Answer: Play in which Queen Gertrude, while watching a play, says, “The lady doth protest too much”

Question: What is Hamlet?

Answer: Sport defined by Hemingway as “Death in the Afternoon”

Question: What is bullfighting?

Answer: Her Giant grew into an epic movie

Question: Who is Edna Ferber?

Show #138 – Wednesday, March 20, 1985

Answer: He wrote “There was a little girl, she had a little curl” & “The Wreck of the Hesperus”, too

Question: Who is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow?

Show #126 – Monday, March 4, 1985

Answer: Originally in Dutch, Het Achterhus, this Diary of a Young Girl is best known by its play title

Question: What is The Diary of Anne Frank?

Answer: After pulling several “rabbits” from his hat, he made The Witches of Eastwick materialize

Question: Who is John Updike?

Show #110 – Friday, February 8, 1985

Answer: Language in which Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese was originally written

Question: What is English?

Show #99 – Thursday, January 24, 1985

Answer: “Under a spreading chestnut tree” it stands

Question: What is the village smithy?

Answer: “Dusk—of a summer night” is the first paragraph of his An American Tragedy

Question: Who is Theodore Dreiser?

Show #84 – Thursday, January 3, 1985

Answer: Shakespeare comedy subtitled “Or, What You Will”

Question: What is Twelfth Night?

Show #80 – Friday, December 28, 1984

Answer: 1st name of Defoe’s bawdy heroine, or a gangster’s girlfriend

Question: What is Moll?

Answer: Mrs. Hamilton, Mrs. Kennedy, & Mrs. Butler, but never Mrs. Wilkes

Question: Who is Scarlett O’Hara?

Show #70 – Friday, December 14, 1984

Answer: Hans Brinker’s were silver

Question: What are ice skates?

Answer: Enid Bagnold’s book that became Liz Taylor’s 1st starring vehicle

Question: What is National Velvet?

Show #66 – Monday, December 10, 1984

Answer: Vowel missing from entire 50,000 word text of Ernest Wright’s “Gadsby”

Question: What is E?

Show #65 – Friday, December 7, 1984

Answer: In “Trees”, he claimed that “poems are made by fools like me”

Question: Who is Joyce Kilmer?

Show #64 – Thursday, December 6, 1984

Answer: Time when the raven came rapping

Question: What is midnight?

Show #57 – Tuesday, November 27, 1984

Answer: Dramatic form, from Greek for “merrymaking”

Question: What is comedy?

Answer: 19th century Norwegian playwright often called founder of modern drama

Question: Who is Henrik Isben?

Answer: As he wished, the last play of Eugene O’Neill was produced after his death

Question: What is Long Day’s Journey Into Night?

Show #41 – Monday, November 5, 1984

Answer: Unknown author of the story of Aladdin

Question: Who is Anonymous? (Alex: “A bit of trick. We threw you a curve there, gang. Sorry about that. We owe ourselves one per game.”)

Show #261 – Monday, September 9, 1985

Answer: In this book, Nick Charles’ Asta is a schnauzer, but in films was played by a wire-haired terrier

Question: What is The Thin Man?

Answer: Garryowen is the “bloody mangy mongrel” in the “Cylops” episode of this James Joyce novel

Question: What is Ulysses?

Show #262 – Tuesday, September 10, 1985

Answer: A gravedigger hands Hamlet this person’s skull

Question: Who is Yorick?

Show #263 – Wednesday, September 11, 1985

Answer: He wrote biographies of Columbus & Washington as well as Rip Van Winkle

Question: Who is Washington Irving?

Answer: Tutored by Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau, her works include “Jo’s Boys”

Question: Who is Louisa May Alcott?

Show #264 – Thursday, September 12, 1985

Answer: Best-selling book of both ’72 & ’73 was this Richard Bach bird

Question: What is Jonathan Livingston Seagull?

Answer: J. Onassis was supervising editor for his autobiography, which should prove a “Thriller”

Question: Who is Michael Jackson?

Show #267 – Tuesday, September 17, 1985

Answer: Sandburg wrote, “The fog comes on” these, but Brautigan said no, cats do, Carl

Question: What are little cat feet?

Answer: Expression “The glory that was Greece & the grandeur that was Rome” is by this gloomy poet

Question: Who is Edgar Allan Poe?

Show #270 – Friday, September 20, 1985

Answer: Queequeg’s occupation in “Moby Dick”

Question: What is a harpooner?

Answer: It begins, “Marley was dead to begin with”

Question: What is A Christmas Carol?

Show #272 – Tuesday, September 24, 1985

Answer: As “Isak Dinesen”, Danish baroness Karen Blixen wrote about this continent she chose as her 2nd home

Question: What is Africa?

Show #276 – Monday, September 30, 1985

Answer: Melville title sailor who personifies innocence

Question: Who is Billy Budd?

Show #279 – Thursday, October 3, 1985

Answer: James Hilton’s schoolmaster father was the model for this novel’s title character

Question: Who is Mr. Chips?

Answer: John Steinbeck wrote the preface of a book about this Al Capp character

Question: Who is Li’l Abner?

Answer: Ironically Catherine, wife of this poet, painter, & printer, was illiterate
Question: Who is William Blake?

Show #282 – Tuesday, October 8, 1985

Answer: Coleridge character who cries, “Water, water, everywhere, nor any drop to drink”

Question: Who is The Ancient Mariner?

Show #295 – Friday, October 25, 1985

Answer: The decadent Snopes clan were featured in this author’s The Hamlet, The Town, & The Mansion

Question: Who is William Faulkner?

Show #297 – Tuesday, October 29, 1985

Answer: At the N.Y. customs house, Oscar Wilde asserted he had nothing to declare but this

Question: What is his genius?

Show #306 – Monday, November 11, 1985

Answer: Captain Nemo “dies” in both these Jules Verne novels

Question: What are Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and The Mysterious Island?

Show #310 – Friday, November 15, 1985

Answer: The Mock Turtle said its 4 branches were “ambition, distraction, uglification, & derision”

Question: What is arithmetic?

Show #313 – Wednesday, November 20, 1985

Answer: It’s said he turned down Pulitzer for Arrowsmith because he felt he was due one sooner

Question: Who is Sinclair Lewis?

Answer: In 1895, this 67-year-old count learned to ride the bicycle he received from Moscow admirers

Question: Who is Leo Tolstoy?

Show #456 – Monday, September 8, 1986

Answer: Of Franny & Zooey & Daphnis & Chloe, the 2 heroines

Question: Who are Franny and Chloe?

Show #463 – Wednesday, September 17, 1986

Answer: Famed for taking it off, her writing career took off with The G-String Murders

Question: Who is Gypsy Rose Lee?

Answer: Frances H. Burnett based this “little” hero in long curls, velvet & lace on her own son, Vivian

Question: Who is Little Lord Fauntleroy?

Show #464 – Thursday, September 18, 1986

Answer: In 1976, Publishers Weekly initiated a best seller list for these

Question: What are paperbacks?

Show #478 – Wednesday, October 8, 1986

Answer: King of Scotland at the start of Macbeth

Question: Who is Duncan?

Show #480 – Friday, October 10, 1986

Answer: The travelers in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales are on a pilgrimage to shrine of this 12th c. martyr

Question: Who is Thomas à Becket?

Answer: Probably the 19th c.’s largest single royalty check went to this president’s widow in 1886 for his Memoirs

Question: Who is Ulysses S. Grant? (Alex: $200,000 check and it was through the good graces of Mark Twain by the way was the publisher.)

Show #481 – Monday, October 13, 1986

Answer: Ben Jonson told Celia, “Drink to me only with thine eyes, & I will” do this

Question: What is “pledge with mine”?

Show #484 – Thursday, October 16, 1986

Answer: Author of A Heap o’ Livin’, listed in Avenel’s companion to American Literature as “Famous Bad Poet”

Question: Who is Edgar Guest?

Show #495 – Friday, October 31, 1986

Answer: To “amuse” his mother, he hid in his pockets bats which he’d found in a Hannibal cave

Question: Who is Mark Twain?

Answer: Perhaps Edgar Allan Poe’s flair for the dramatic came from this, his birth parents’ occupation

Question: What is acting?

Show #501 – Monday, November 10, 1986

Answer: What you’ll be if you accomplish all the ifs in Rudyard Kipling’s If, my son

Question: What is a man?

Show #504 – Thursday, November 13, 1986

Answer: In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, this was Tom Snout’s occupation tho you may not give a “dam”

Question: What is tinker?

Show #505 – Friday, November 14, 1986

Answer: Turgenev novel that dealt with confrontation between 2 generations & popularized the word “nihilist”

Question: What is Fathers and Sons?

Show #521 – Monday, December 8, 1986

Answer: Czech writer who wrote in German, his life, like his novels, was a constant “Trial”

Question: Who is Franz Kafka?

Answer: “I know for a fact there is life after death,” said this author of On Death & Dying

Question: Who is Elisabeth Kübler-Ross?

Show #524 – Thursday, December 11, 1986

Answer: Once nearly blind from an infection as a teenager, this Englishman wrote Eyeless in Gaza in 1936

Question: Who is Aldous Huxley?

Show #526 – Monday, December 15, 1986

Answer: Author of The Third Man, Robert Louis Stevenson was his 1st cousin once removed

Question: Who is Graham Greene?

Show #527 – Tuesday, December 16, 1986

Answer: She told her father “I love your majesty according to my bond, no more nor less”

Question: Who is Cordelia?

Show #532 – Tuesday, December 23, 1986

Answer: In 1986, his second posthumous novel, The Garden of Eden, was published 25 years after his death

Question: Who is Ernest Hemingway?

Show #539 – Thursday, January 1, 1987

Answer: His pen name is Russian for “bitter”; his depressing plays include The Lower Depths

Question: Who is Maxim Gorky?

Answer: Peter Shaffer called this long time best seller “a tribal record…full of rape, incest & murder”

Question: What is The Bible?

Show #547 – Tuesday, January 13, 1987

Answer: This “Little Chickadee” got thrown in jail for Sex, a 1926 play she not only starred in, but wrote

Question: Who is Mae West?

Answer: Feminist author of The Female Eunuch, she married 1 of Cosmopolitan’s 1st nude male centerfolds

Question: Who is Germaine Greer?

Show #550 – Friday, January 16, 1987

Answer: The only two Italian cities mentioned in [Shakespeare’s] titles, they both begin with “V”

Question: What are Verona and Venice?

Show #560 – Friday, January 30, 1987

Answer: Of this India-born writer, Mark Twain said, “He knows all that can be known, & I know the rest”

Question: Who is Rudyard Kipling?

Show #561 – Monday, February 2, 1987

Answer: The 42nd Parallel, 1919, and The Big Money comprised this John Dos Passos trilogy

Question: What is U.S.A.?

Show #563 – Wednesday, February 4, 1987

Answer: Of Lady Macbeth’s 165 words in her sleepwalking scene, all but 20 have this number of syllables

Question: What is one?

Show #565 – Friday, February 6, 1987

Answer: Name by which Eva St. Clare is better known in Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Question: What is Little Eva?

Show #615 – Friday, April 17, 1987

Answer: Margaret Sanger dedicated her book on birth control to this relative who had had 11 children

Question: Who is her mother?

Answer: Her only non-fiction work was Every Night, Josephine! describing her French poodle’s lifestyle

Question: Who is Jacqueline Susann?

Show #630 – Friday, May 8, 1987

Answer: Her 1949 tale, “The Lottery”, didn’t feature a pick 6 for cash, but a pick 1 for stoning

Question: Who is Shirley Jackson?

Answer: Title shared by novels of H.G. Wells & Ralph Ellison, though H.G. added a “The”

Question: What is Invisible Man?

Answer: The darkest time of this British author’s youth was his job of pasting labels on pots of stove blacking

Question: Who is Charles Dickens?

Show #1179 – Thursday, October 19, 1989

Answer: In Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Hester Prynne did her sinning in this Puritan city

Question: What is Boston?

Answer: Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn’s hometown, St. Petersburg, was based on this Missouri city

Question: What is Hannibal?

Show #1189 – Thursday, November 2, 1989

Answer: Set in the Outback, this novel opens “On December 8, 1915, Meggie Cleary had her 4th birthday”

Question: What is The Thorn Birds?

Answer: In his novel Falconer, Falconer is a prison

Question: Who is John Cheever?

Show #1272 – Tuesday, February 27, 1990

Answer: His 19th century novels such as The Mysterious Island foretold the submarine, the aqua lung & TV

Question: Who is Jules Verne?

Answer: Born Amandine Aurore Lucile Dupin, she chose this pseudonym for her 1st novel, 1832’s Indiana

Question: Who is George Sand?

Show #1347 – Tuesday, June 12, 1990

Answer: In the Dostoevsky novel, one was a writer, one a student at a monastery & one didn’t work at all

Question: Who are the Brothers Karamazov?

Show #1354 – Thursday, June 21, 1990

Answer: Seeking to end Peloponnesian War, Aristophanes wrote this comedy about a sex strike

Question: What is Lysistrata?

Show #1623 – Wednesday, September 25, 1991

Answer: Thomas Wolfe was born in 1900 & entered the University of this, his native state, at age 15

Question: What is North Carolina?

Show #1796 – Monday, May 25, 1992

Answer: His 1st book of stories appeared in 1904, 3 years after he finished serving time for embezzling

Question: Who is O. Henry?

Answer: In The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, this is Abraham Van Brunt’s nickname

Question: What is Brom Bones?

Show #1984 – Thursday, April 1, 1993

Answer: The expression “to grow like topsy” comes from this 1852 novel

Question: What is Uncle Tom’s Cabin?

Answer: The Italian type of this 14-line poem is also known as the Petrarchan

Question: What is a sonnet?

Answer: Famous price of the novels written by Ned Buntline

Question: What is a dime?

Answer: Time magazine called this Working author “the tape recorder’s best friend”

Question: Who is Studs Terkel?

Show #2057 – Tuesday, July 13, 1993

Answer: The sails of her barge were “so perfumed that the winds were love-sick with them”

Question: Who is Cleopatra?

Emily Temple
Emily Temple
Emily Temple is the managing editor at Lit Hub. Her first novel, The Lightness, was published by William Morrow/HarperCollins in June 2020. You can buy it here.





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