My Fantasy Bookshelf: Antonia Campbell-Hughes shares the books which influenced her life and career

The co-writer and star of Cordelia shares her top reads.

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Antonia Campbell-Hughes - My Fantasy Bookshelf

Antonia Campbell-Hughes is an actor and writer, seen on the small screen in the likes of Silent Witness and Jack Dee’s Lead Balloon.

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Now, Campbell-Hughes’ latest project propels her onto the silver screen. She stars opposite Johnny Flynn and alongside Michael Gambon in the new thriller Cordelia, which she co-wrote.

Here, Campbell-Hughes discusses the books which have inspired her most and selects the final titles for her Fantasy Bookshelf. The star shares the book we should all be reading now, the quote which has stayed with her since childhood and the works she’d most like to relive on screen.

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What’s the next book you can’t wait to read?

So many. I compulsively buy books online, it’s my great addiction. When I was a child I lived mostly in Geneva and there was an English bookshop that I would go to every Saturday and I was allowed to buy three books.

I think having that imposed disciplinary rule was a good thing. I buy at a much faster rate than I have time to read now and I read pretty fast. In one of my last Amazon order bundles was In the Dust of This Planet by Eugene Thacker, a non-fiction horror and philosophy crossover, and also Women, The New York School and Other True Abstractions by Maggie Nelson.

I have read everything Maggie Nelson has ever written except this last, a collection of criticism, poetry, essays. I have held it from myself intentionally, allowing for something to look forward to and savour.

Which audiobook have you been most lost in?

I have tried, but I simply cannot seem to make [audiobooks] work for me. I adore everything about the tangible nature of books. The paper, the print, how they wear…I love reading too much to listen.

What’s your favourite literary quote?

‘I am the Cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me,’ just because it was one of the first beautiful books given to me. I was obsessive about books as a child. It’s all I collected, hundreds of them – treasures.

This was a hardback, leather-bound collection of Rudyard Kipling’s works that my father gave me. I have a memory of him always saying that quote to me. I suppose because I was quite different to other children? Makes sense.

Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Johnny Flynn in Cordelia
Antonia Campbell-Hughes and Johnny Flynn in new thriller, Cordelia.

Which book has taught you the most?

Literary criticism and environmental criticism are areas where almost all my reading has been focused for the past six years or so. It has absolutely opened a whole world for me.

It began with Maggie Nelson’s Bluets. I find it hard to go back to reading fiction. I have enough fiction in my own writing and film work.

You co-wrote Cordelia, which you also star in. Is there anything you’ve read which has inspired your writing?

I have been developing and writing a television series for several years, which is very much inspired by the eco-criticism that I have been reading. I do believe that much of what occurs on earth [such as] energy planet shifts, nature versus man, is basically science fiction. So my television show is an eco-thriller/sci-fi.

If you could star in a screen adaptation as a character from any book, which would it be?

I was attached to a film adaptation of the life of Carson McCullers called Lonely Hunter. I was to play Annemarie Schwarzenbach. She is actually a real person from history, an extraordinary gay woman who made her mark in the 1930s as an explorer and researcher. Carson McCullers was obviously a hugely intriguing person of history also.

Which book would you most like to see on screen next?

I would love to see some adaptations of some of Carson McCullers work, or in fact the story of her life.

What was the last book you couldn’t put down?

Joy Williams’ Ill Nature and My Meteorite by Harry Dodge. It’s a tie, technically I read My Meteorite two days after.

Is there a book everyone needs to read now?

Everything by Bill McKibben. Such essential reading for people at this time, his observations and predictions as an environmentalist and activist. In 1989 he wrote The End of Nature, the first book for a common audience about global warming.

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Cordelia will be released in cinemas on 23 October 

Buy Antonia Campbell-Hughes’ Fantasy Bookshelf