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Sarah Waters

Waters at a book signing for The Night Watch
Born 21 July 1966[1]
Neyland, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Occupation Novelist
Nationality British
Writing period 1998-present
Genres Historical fiction
Official website

Sarah Waters (born 21 July 1966) is a British novelist. She is best known for her novels set in Victorian society, such as Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith.

Contents

Personal life

Childhood

Sarah Waters was born in Neyland, Pembrokeshire, Wales in 1966.

She grew up in a family that included her father Ron, mother Mary, and sister. Her mother was a housewife and her father an engineer who worked on oil refineries.[3] She describes her family as "pretty idyllic, very safe and nurturing." Her father, "a fantastically creative person," encouraged her to build and invent.[2]

Waters said, "When I picture myself as a child, I see myself constructing something, out of plasticine or papier-mâché or Meccano; I used to enjoy writing poems and stories, too." She wrote stories and poems that she describes as "dreadful gothic pastiches," but had not planned her career.[2]

I don’t know if I thought about it much, really. I know that, for a long time, I wanted to be an archaeologist – like lots of kids. And I think I knew I was headed for university, even though no one else in my family had been. I was always bright at school, and really enjoyed learning. I remember my mother telling me that I might one day go to university and write a thesis, and explaining what a thesis was; and it seemed a very exciting prospect. I was clearly a bit of a nerd.[2]

Waters was a "completely tomboyish child", but "got into" femininity in her teenage years. She had always been attracted to boys, and it was not until university that she first fell in love with a woman.[3]

Education

Waters attended university, and earned degrees in English literature. She received a BA from the University of Kent, an MA from Lancaster University, and a PhD from Queen Mary, University of London. The work for her PhD dissertation, ('Wolfskins and togas : lesbian and gay historical fictions, 1870 to the present'), served as inspiration and material for future books. As part of her research, she read 19th-century pornography, in which she came across the title of her first book, Tipping the Velvet.[4]

Daily life

Waters lives in a top-floor Victorian flat in Kennington, south-west London.[3][4] The rooms, which have very high ceilings, used to be servant quarters.[5] Waters lives with her two cats.[5]

Career

Before writing novels, Waters worked as an academic, earning a doctorate and teaching.[6] Waters went directly from her doctoral thesis to her first novel. It was during the process of writing her thesis that she thought she would write a novel; she began as soon as the thesis was complete.[2] Her work is very research-intensive, which is an aspect she enjoys.[7] Waters was a member of the long-running London North Writers circle, whose members have included the novelists Charles Palliser and Neil Blackmore, among others.[8]

With the exception of her most recent book, The Little Stranger, all of her books contain lesbian themes, and she does not mind being labeled a lesbian writer. She said, "I'm writing with a clear lesbian agenda in the novels. It's right there at the heart of the books." She calls it "incidental," because of her own sexual orientation. "That's how it is in my life, and that's how it is, really, for most lesbian and gay people, isn't it? It's sort of just there in your life."[7]

Tipping the Velvet (1998)

Her debut work was the Victorian picaresque Tipping the Velvet, published by Virago in 1998. The novel took 18 months to write.[9] The book takes its title from Victorian slang for cunnilingus.[4] Waters describes the novel as "very upbeat [...] kind of a romp."[9]

It won a 1999 Betty Trask Award, and was shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday / John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.[4]

In 2002, the novel was adapted into a three-part television serial of the same name for BBC Two. It has been translated into at least 24 languages, including Chinese, Latvian, Hungarian, Korean and Slovenian.[10]

Affinity (1999)

Waters's second book, Affinity was published a year after her first, in 1999. The novel, also set in the Victorian era, centres on the world of Victorian Spiritualism. While finishing her debut novel, Waters had been working on an academic paper on spiritualism. She combined her interests in spiritualism, prisons, and the Victorian era in Affinity, which tells the story of the relationship between an upper middle-class woman and an imprisoned spiritualist.

The novel is less light-hearted than the ones that preceded and followed it. Waters found it less enjoyable to write.[9] "It was a very gloomy world to have to go into every day," she said.[11]

Affinity won the Stonewall Book Award and Somerset Maugham Award. Andrew Davies wrote a screenplay adapting Affinity and the resulting feature film premiered 19 June 2008 at the opening night of Frameline the San Francisco LGBT Film Festival at the Castro Theater.

Fingersmith (2002)

Fingersmith was published in 2002. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize.

Fingersmith was made into a serial for BBC One in 2005, starring Sally Hawkins, Elaine Cassidy and Imelda Staunton. Waters approved of the adaptation, calling it "especially a really good quality show," and said it was "very faithful to the book. It was spookily faithful to the book at times, which was exciting."[7]

The Night Watch (2006)

The Night Watch took four years for Waters to write.[2] It differs from the first three novels in its time period and the way it was written. Although her thesis and previous books focused on the 19th century, Waters said that "Something about the 1940s called to me."[2] It was also less tightly plotted than her other books. Waters said,

I had more or less to figure the book out as I went along – a very time-consuming and unnerving experience for me, as I tried out scenes and chapters in lots of different ways. I ended up with a pile of rejected scenes about three feet high. It was satisfying in the end, realising just what should go where; but a lot of the time it felt like a wrestling match.[2]

The novel tells the stories of a man and three women in 1940s London. Waters describes it as "fundamentally a novel about disappointment and loss and betrayal," as well as "real contact between people and genuine intimacy."[7]

In 2005, Waters received the highest bid (£1,000) during a charity auction in which the prize was the opportunity to have the winner's name immortalized in The Night Watch. The auction featured many notable British novelists, and the name of the bidder, author Martina Cole, appeared in Waters' novel.[12]

The Little Stranger (2009)

Also set in the 1940s, The Little Stranger also diverts from Waters' previous novels. It is her first with no overtly lesbian characters. Initially, Waters set out to write a book about the economic changes brought by socialism in postwar Britain, and reviewers note the connection with Evelyn Waugh.[13] Along the novel's construction, it turned into a ghost story in the style of Edgar Allan Poe as the story explores the relationship of a family who owns a grand estate that they can no longer afford to keep, with their family doctor whose mother was once a maid in the house. Waters' grandparents were servants in a country house.[14]

Bibliography

Adaptations

Sarah Waters appeared briefly in both Tipping the Velvet, as an audience member, and Fingersmith, as a maid.[15]

Awards

Sarah Waters was named as one of Granta's 20 Best of Young British Writers in January 2003. The same year, she received the South Bank Award for Literature. She was named Author of the Year at the 2003 British Book Awards.[4] In both 2006 and 2009 she won "Writer of the Year" at the annual Stonewall Awards.

Each of her novels has received awards as well.

Tipping the Velvet

Affinity

  • Stonewall Book Award (American Library Association GLBT Roundtable Book Award), 2000
  • Arts Council of Wales Book of the Year Award (shortlist), 2000
  • Ferro-Grumley Award for Lesbian and Gay Fiction, 2000
  • Lambda Literary Award for Fiction (shortlist), 2000
  • Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize (shortlist), 2000
  • Somerset Maugham Award for Lesbian and Gay Fiction, 2000
  • Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, 2000

Fingersmith

The Night Watch

  • Man Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist), 2006
  • Orange Prize for Fiction (shortlist), 2006
  • Lambda Literary Award, 2007

The Little Stranger

  • Man Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist), 2009[16]

References

  1. ^ Who's Who 2009
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h McGrane, Michelle (2006). "Sarah Waters on writing: 'If I waited for inspiration to strike, it would never happen!' (Interview)". LitNet. http://www.litnet.co.za/cgi-bin/giga.cgi?cmd=cause_dir_news_item&news_id=3630&cause_id=1270. Retrieved 2007-02-24.  
  3. ^ a b c Allardice, Lisa (June 1, 2006). "Uncharted Waters". The Guardian. http://books.guardian.co.uk/hay2006/story/0,,1787355,00.html. Retrieved 2007-02-24.  
  4. ^ a b c d e Waters, Sarah. "Biography". sarahwaters.com. http://www.sarahwaters.com/biog.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-24.  
  5. ^ a b Taylor, Debbie. "THE Mslexia INTERVIEW - Sarah Waters talks to Debbie Taylor". libertas.co.uk. http://www.libertas.co.uk/interviews.asp?ID=8. Retrieved 2007-02-24.  
  6. ^ Page, Benedicte. "Her Thieving Hands". Virago. http://www.virago.co.uk/virago/meet/waters_interview.asp?TAG=&CID=virago.  
  7. ^ a b c d Lo, Malinda (April 6, 2006). "Interview with Sarah Waters". AfterEllen.com. http://www.afterellen.com/Print/2006/4/waters.html.  
  8. ^ http://www.northlondonwriters.co.uk
  9. ^ a b c Hogan, Ron. "Sarah Waters (Interview)". BookSense.com. http://www.booksense.com/people/archive/waterssarah.jsp. Retrieved 2007-02-24.  
  10. ^ "Sarah Waters: Interview". Time Out London. http://www.timeout.com/london/books/features/144.html. Retrieved 2007-02-24.  
  11. ^ "Sarah Waters: From Victoria to VE Day (Interview)". Powells.com. http://www.powells.com/authors/sarahwaters.html. Retrieved 2007-02-24.  
  12. ^ "Book role auction nudges £20,000" (in English). BBC News. 31 March, 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3586013.stm. Retrieved 2007-02-24.  
  13. ^ Didock, Barry (May 30, 2009). "Capturing the spirit of the age: A haunting novel evokes the claustrophobia of postwar Britain", The Herald (Glasgow), p. 9.
  14. ^ Allemang, John (May 18, 2009). "Ghost writer: She's known for writing Victorian-era lesbian sex romps, but best-selling author Sarah Waters haunts a new genre in her latest novel, The Little Stranger", The Globe and Mail (Canada) p. R1.
  15. ^ "Interview with Sarah Waters". Gingerbeer. http://www.gingerbeer.co.uk/article.php?CategoryID=&ArticleID=46.  
  16. ^ "Sarah signs in for fans". Croydon Post (Northcliffe Media): pp. 12. 2 December 2009. "A library was bursting at the seams when Man Booker Prize short-listed author Sarah Waters visited... [she] signed copies of The Little Stranger, her novel praised by the prestigious literary prize's judges this year."  

External links


Sarah Waters
File:Sarah
Waters at a book signing for The Night Watch
Born 21 July 1966[1]
Neyland, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Occupation Novelist
Nationality British
Period 1998-present
Genres Historical fiction


www.sarahwaters.com

Sarah Waters (born 21 July 1966) is a British novelist. She is best known for her novels set in Victorian society, such as Tipping the Velvet and Fingersmith.

Contents

Personal life

Childhood

Sarah Waters was born in Neyland, Pembrokeshire, Wales in 1966.

She grew up in a family that included her father Ron, mother Mary, and sister. Her mother was a housewife and her father an engineer who worked on oil refineries.[3] She describes her family as "pretty idyllic, very safe and nurturing." Her father, "a fantastically creative person," encouraged her to build and invent.[2]

Waters said, "When I picture myself as a child, I see myself constructing something, out of plasticine or papier-mâché or Meccano; I used to enjoy writing poems and stories, too." She wrote stories and poems that she describes as "dreadful gothic pastiches," but had not planned her career.[2]

I don’t know if I thought about it much, really. I know that, for a long time, I wanted to be an archaeologist – like lots of kids. And I think I knew I was headed for university, even though no one else in my family had been. I was always bright at school, and really enjoyed learning. I remember my mother telling me that I might one day go to university and write a thesis, and explaining what a thesis was; and it seemed a very exciting prospect. I was clearly a bit of a nerd.[2]

Waters was a "completely tomboyish child", but "got into" femininity in her teenage years. She had always been attracted to boys, and it was not until university that she first fell in love with a woman.[3]

Education

After Milford Haven Grammar School, Waters attended university, and earned degrees in English literature. She received a BA from the University of Kent, an MA from Lancaster University, and a PhD from Queen Mary, University of London. The work for her PhD dissertation, ('Wolfskins and togas : lesbian and gay historical fictions, 1870 to the present' - available as a free download from the British Library's ETHOS service,[4] served as inspiration and material for future books. As part of her research, she read 19th-century pornography, in which she came across the title of her first book, Tipping the Velvet.[5]

Daily life

Waters lives in a top-floor Victorian flat in Kennington, south-west London.[3][5] The rooms, which have very high ceilings, used to be servant quarters.[6] Waters lives with her two cats.[6]

Career

Before writing novels, Waters worked as an academic, earning a doctorate and teaching.[7] Waters went directly from her doctoral thesis to her first novel. It was during the process of writing her thesis that she thought she would write a novel; she began as soon as the thesis was complete.[2] Her work is very research-intensive, which is an aspect she enjoys.[8] Waters was a member of the long-running London North Writers circle, whose members have included the novelists Charles Palliser and Neil Blackmore, among others.[9]

With the exception of her most recent book, The Little Stranger, all of her books contain lesbian themes, and she does not mind being labeled a lesbian writer. She said, "I'm writing with a clear lesbian agenda in the novels. It's right there at the heart of the books." She calls it "incidental," because of her own sexual orientation. "That's how it is in my life, and that's how it is, really, for most lesbian and gay people, isn't it? It's sort of just there in your life."[8]

Tipping the Velvet (1998)

Her debut work was the Victorian picaresque Tipping the Velvet, published by Virago in 1998. The novel took 18 months to write.[10] The book takes its title from Victorian slang for cunnilingus.[5] Waters describes the novel as a "very upbeat [...] kind of a romp."[10]

It won a 1999 Betty Trask Award, and was shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday / John Llewellyn Rhys Prize.[5]

In 2002, the novel was adapted into a three-part television serial of the same name for BBC Two. It has been translated into at least 24 languages, including Chinese, Latvian, Hungarian, Korean and Slovenian.[11]

Affinity (1999)

Waters's second book, Affinity was published a year after her first, in 1999. The novel, also set in the Victorian era, centres on the world of Victorian Spiritualism. While finishing her debut novel, Waters had been working on an academic paper on spiritualism. She combined her interests in spiritualism, prisons, and the Victorian era in Affinity, which tells the story of the relationship between an upper middle-class woman and an imprisoned spiritualist.

The novel is less light-hearted than the ones that preceded and followed it. Waters found it less enjoyable to write.[10] "It was a very gloomy world to have to go into every day," she said.[12]

Affinity won the Stonewall Book Award and Somerset Maugham Award. Andrew Davies wrote a screenplay adapting Affinity and the resulting feature film premiered 19 June 2008 at the opening night of Frameline the San Francisco LGBT Film Festival at the Castro Theater.

Fingersmith (2002)

Fingersmith was published in 2002. It was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize.

Fingersmith was made into a serial for BBC One in 2005, starring Sally Hawkins, Elaine Cassidy and Imelda Staunton. Waters approved of the adaptation, calling it "especially a really good quality show," and said it was "very faithful to the book. It was spookily faithful to the book at times, which was exciting."[8]

The Night Watch (2006)

The Night Watch took four years for Waters to write.[2] It differs from the first three novels in its time period and the way it was written. Although her thesis and previous books focused on the 19th century, Waters said that "Something about the 1940s called to me."[2] It was also less tightly plotted than her other books. Waters said,

I had more or less to figure the book out as I went along – a very time-consuming and unnerving experience for me, as I tried out scenes and chapters in lots of different ways. I ended up with a pile of rejected scenes about three feet high. It was satisfying in the end, realising just what should go where; but a lot of the time it felt like a wrestling match.[2]

The novel tells the stories of a man and three women in 1940s London. Waters describes it as "fundamentally a novel about disappointment and loss and betrayal," as well as "real contact between people and genuine intimacy."[8]

In 2005, Waters received the highest bid (£1,000) during a charity auction in which the prize was the opportunity to have the winner's name immortalized in The Night Watch. The auction featured many notable British novelists, and the name of the bidder, author Martina Cole, appeared in Waters' novel.[13]

The Little Stranger (2009)

Also set in the 1940s, The Little Stranger also diverts from Waters' previous novels. It is her first with no overtly lesbian characters. Initially, Waters set out to write a book about the economic changes brought by socialism in postwar Britain, and reviewers note the connection with Evelyn Waugh.[14] Along the novel's construction, it turned into a ghost story in the style of Edgar Allan Poe as the story explores the relationship of a family who owns a grand estate that they can no longer afford to keep, with their family doctor whose mother was once a maid in the house. Waters' grandparents were servants in a country house.[15]

Bibliography

Adaptations

Sarah Waters appeared briefly in both Tipping the Velvet, as an audience member, and Fingersmith, as a maid.[16]

Awards

Sarah Waters was named as one of Granta's 20 Best of Young British Writers in January 2003. The same year, she received the South Bank Award for Literature. She was named Author of the Year at the 2003 British Book Awards.[5] In both 2006 and 2009 she won "Writer of the Year" at the annual Stonewall Awards. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2009.[17]

Each of her novels has received awards as well.

Tipping the Velvet

Affinity

  • Stonewall Book Award (American Library Association GLBT Roundtable Book Award), 2000
  • Arts Council of Wales Book of the Year Award (shortlist), 2000
  • Ferro-Grumley Award for Lesbian and Gay Fiction, 2000
  • Lambda Literary Award for Fiction (shortlist), 2000
  • Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize (shortlist), 2000
  • Somerset Maugham Award for Lesbian and Gay Fiction, 2000
  • Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award, 2000

Fingersmith

The Night Watch

  • Man Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist), 2006
  • Orange Prize for Fiction (shortlist), 2006
  • Lambda Literary Award, 2007

The Little Stranger

  • Man Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist), 2009[18]

References

  1. ^ Who's Who 2009
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h McGrane, Michelle (2006). "Sarah Waters on writing: 'If I waited for inspiration to strike, it would never happen!' (Interview)". LitNet. http://www.litnet.co.za/cgi-bin/giga.cgi?cmd=cause_dir_news_item&news_id=3630&cause_id=1270. Retrieved 2007-02-24. 
  3. ^ a b c Allardice, Lisa (June 1, 2006). "Uncharted Waters". The Guardian. http://books.guardian.co.uk/hay2006/story/0,,1787355,00.html. Retrieved 2007-02-24. 
  4. ^ British Library Ethos Service, search for 'Wolfskins'
  5. ^ a b c d e Waters, Sarah. "Biography". sarahwaters.com. Archived from the original on 2007-02-17. http://web.archive.org/web/20070217174712/http://www.sarahwaters.com/biog.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-24. 
  6. ^ a b Taylor, Debbie. "THE Mslexia INTERVIEW - Sarah Waters talks to Debbie Taylor". libertas.co.uk. http://www.libertas.co.uk/interviews.asp?ID=8. Retrieved 2007-02-24. 
  7. ^ Page, Benedicte. "Her Thieving Hands". Virago. http://www.virago.co.uk/virago/meet/waters_interview.asp?TAG=&CID=virago. 
  8. ^ a b c d Lo, Malinda (April 6, 2006). "Interview with Sarah Waters". AfterEllen.com. http://www.afterellen.com/Print/2006/4/waters.html. 
  9. ^ http://www.northlondonwriters.co.uk
  10. ^ a b c Hogan, Ron. "Sarah Waters (Interview)". BookSense.com. http://www.booksense.com/people/archive/waterssarah.jsp. Retrieved 2007-02-24. 
  11. ^ "Sarah Waters: Interview". Time Out London. http://www.timeout.com/london/books/features/144.html. Retrieved 2007-02-24. 
  12. ^ "Sarah Waters: From Victoria to VE Day (Interview)". Powells.com. http://www.powells.com/authors/sarahwaters.html. Retrieved 2007-02-24. 
  13. ^ "Book role auction nudges £20,000" (in English). BBC News. 31 March, 2004. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3586013.stm. Retrieved 2007-02-24. 
  14. ^ Didock, Barry (May 30, 2009). "Capturing the spirit of the age: A haunting novel evokes the claustrophobia of postwar Britain", The Herald (Glasgow), p. 9.
  15. ^ Allemang, John (May 18, 2009). "Ghost writer: She's known for writing Victorian-era lesbian sex romps, but best-selling author Sarah Waters haunts a new genre in her latest novel, The Little Stranger", The Globe and Mail (Canada) p. R1.
  16. ^ "Interview with Sarah Waters". Gingerbeer. http://www.gingerbeer.co.uk/article.php?CategoryID=&ArticleID=46. 
  17. ^ "Royal Society of Literature All Fellows". http://www.rslit.org/content/fellows. Retrieved 10 August 2010. 
  18. ^ "Sarah signs in for fans". Croydon Post (Northcliffe Media): pp. 12. 2 December 2009. "A library was bursting at the seams when Man Booker Prize short-listed author Sarah Waters visited... [she] signed copies of The Little Stranger, her novel praised by the prestigious literary prize's judges this year." 

External links








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