Sally Bayley,

Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Oxford Brookes and college lecturer in English, Film & Writing.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Jane stands up to cruelty and injustice and when she speaks, everyone listens. Jane is a powerful rhetorician. She also remains somewhat inscrutable, folded away inside her private imaginative world. I wanted to be part of her world.


 

Alba Arikha,

Author and regular Radio 4 contributor.

I would say that the book which influenced me the most was Germinal by Emile Zola.

The story, about a coalminers’ strike in 1860s France made me feel as if I were communicating with a dead spirit. I was also very taken by the love triangle between the hero and the other protagonists – which propelled me to write my own (rather terrible) mini version. After that, there was no turning back.


 

Julian Felice,

Head of Drama at Bayside Comprehensive School and Gibraltar’s first internationally published playwright.

My favourite books growing up were Roald Dahl’s Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and the Adventure series of books by Willard Price. With the former, I loved the imagination, the playfulness and the larger-than-life characters. With the latter, I found the information they gave about animals and the world around us fascinating. My son is reading these now and I hope he gets as much out of them as I did.

 


 

Adrian Tinniswood,

Adrian Tinniswood, Author and Senior Research Fellow in History at the University of Buckingham.

The book that inspired me most when I was growing up was Joseph Heller’s great satirical war novel Catch-22. I read it first when I was about fourteen, and I’ve probably read it half a dozen times since. It taught me what a powerful tool fiction can be when it comes to presenting the past. Even more importantly, it made me laugh. It still does.


 

Nick Higham,

Journalist, Interviewer and Conference Moderator, and a former BBC News Reporter.

I think it would have to be The Making of the English Landscape, by W G Hoskins. Hoskins was a pioneer of landscape history and local history. His book taught me that history is, literally, all around us and ensured that, whatever else I did in life, I would always be fascinated by the past and its traces in the present. Some of my happiest times have been spent pursuing that interest.


 

Tim Bentnick,

Voice of David Archer in the BBC Radio series, The Archers, and accomplished stage, film, radio and television actor.

“I’ve always been fascinated by languages, and I did English, French and German for A Level. The book that I keep going back to is called, The Loom of Language by Frederick Bodmer. It goes through the history of the European languages from Sanskrit and Indo-European to the present day. It always astounded me that the Germanic and Latin languages actually had a common root, and the vocabulary section at the back has a list of all the words that are nearly identical to English, one list of Germanic, and one of Romance words. I just went to look for it and it’s gone – must have ‘lent’ it to someone. A used paperback is now on its way from Amazon!”


 

Brian Wood,

Former Colour Sergeant, Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.

Bravo Two Zero was the book that maintained my drive to become a soldier.