St Albans author pens modernised version of literary classic

St Albans author FJ Campbell has released The Islanders, a modernised version of Thomas Hardy's Far

St Albans author FJ Campbell has released The Islanders, a modernised version of Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd. - Credit: Archant

A St Albans author has updated and modernised a literary classic in her next published book.

FJ Campbell, who would prefer to go by her published name and retain some anonymity, is just about to launch The Islanders, a novel based on Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd.

The original is a tragic love story about Bathsheba Everdene, who navigates the affections of three suitors throughout her life.

Campbell’s version is set in a boarding school which is so remote pupils call it The Island.

It was written between 2014 and 2016 after she read Far from the Madding Crowd with her book group in Germany.

She said: “It really inspired me because there is a main character in it called Bathsheba Everdene and she is an amazing feminist woman from the 19th century.

“I thought the book could be updated so easily - so I got going with it.”

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Campbell’s debut book, No Number Nine, was actually written after The Islanders but released by Troubador Publishing first.

She added: “It suited me more to publish that one first, and then No Number Nine started selling well and I was getting a few good reviews.

“So because I am now more confident with the publishing process I thought I would go back and publish The Islanders.

“I love the process and it is not like work for me, it is like a really fun hobby that I might get paid for. My favourite bit is always the first draft because you can sit there and write lots of rubbish, you don’t have to spell everything correctly, you can get really creative, and you can start after a glass of wine.”

Campbell is a mum of two from Lancashire, who lived in Germany for 13 years before moving to St Albans last summer.

She is considering setting her next work in St Albans: “I feel like it is really nice to write something where you live and I could research the book by walking the streets and getting to know the city - but I don’t know if I will yet.

“We really love it here, we have settled in really well. It is a great city with lots of things to do, I love the arts so the first thing I did when we arrived was go to the film festival.”

The book will be available in Waterstones from January 28.