August 2010 – Author – Sarah Waters




Sarah Waters was born in 1966 in Pembrokeshire, Wales. She studied English Literature at the universities of Kent and Lancaster, after which she worked in bookshops and libraries, before returning to postgraduate study. She then gained a Ph.D in English Literature, her field of study being lesbian and gay historical fiction, and also had articles on gender, sexuality and history published in a number of journals.

While working on her Ph.D thesis, she became increasingly interested in London life of the nineteenth century, and began writing fiction. She has since written three novels set in Victorian England, for which she has received high praise from both mainstream reviewers and the gay and lesbian press.

In 1998, her first novel Tipping the Velvet was published – a picaresque adventure based around Victorian music hall, with a lesbian love story at its centre. This book was adapted into a drama serial by Andrew Davies, and received much press attention when it was shown on BBC TV in 2002. Her second novel, Affinity (1999), is a darker novel set in a London women’s prison, and explores the Victorian world of spiritualism. This book won a Somerset Maugham Award for Lesbian and Gay Fiction and a Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award in 2000, and was adapted for television in 2008. Fingersmith was published in 2002, a thriller and love story set among petty thieves and criminals in 1860s London. Its central character, Susan, is a pickpocket. This book was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction and the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Sarah Waters was for a time an associate lecturer for the Open University and has also tutored on Creative Writing programmes, but is now a full-time fiction writer living in London. In 2003 she was nominated by Granta magazine as one of twenty ‘Best of Young British Novelists’. Her novel The Night Watch (2006), is set in London during and after the Second World War. Her latest novel is The Little Stranger (2009), a ghost story. It was shortlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.

The LnL Questionnaire

Your favourite virtue? 


Your favourite qualities in a man? 

Modesty and kindness.

Your favourite qualities in a woman? 

Modesty, kindness, funniness, boyishness.

Your main characteristic? 


What draws you most to your friends? 

Shared anxieties!

Given the opportunity what would you most like to change?

I’d like to worry less!

Who would you most like to take out for dinner? 

Shane from The L Word – it would do wonders for my reputation.

Your idea of happiness? 

Tootling around the countryside in my car, with my girlfriend at the wheel and me with a map, telling her which road to take.

What is your favourite way of spending the day?

Reading in bed in the morning, followed by shopping and a trip to the cinema.

Whose life other than yours would you most like to have lived? 

Someone who really knew how to have a good time – maybe Isadora Duncan. Only without the tragedies, the drunkenness, and the grisly end, of course.

Where would you most like to live? 

Right where I live now.

Who is your favourite author? 


Who is your favourite poet? 

I don’t think I’ve got one.

Your favourite heroes in fiction? 

Georgie Pillson, from E F Benson’s Mapp and Lucia novels.

Your favourite heroines in fiction? 

Jane Eyre, Anna Karenina, and Marion Halcombe from The Woman in White.

Your favourite painters? 

Gillian Wearing and Cindy Sherman – though they’re not exactly painters.

Who is your favourite composer? 

Lalo Schifrin, who wrote the theme for Mission: Impossible.

What is your favourite Film?
A Star is Born – the 1954 version, with Judy Garland & James Mason. .

Your favourite food? 

A free-range bacon and egg sandwich.

Your favourite drink? 

Dirty gin martini with two olives.

Who do you most admire? 

Anyone brave. I’m an awful coward.

What is your present state of mind? 

Fretful and cowardly.

For what fault have you most toleration? 

Stupidity. I am frequently stupid, and growing stupider the older I get.

Your favourite motto? 

Enjoy yourself – it’s later than you think!


Buy Sarah Waters Books at Amazon 

Sarahs Website

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