Happy birthday, Sarah Waters!! The Welsh author and queen
of lesbian historical fiction turns 51 today!
In an interview with The Independent, Sarah proclaims, “I pay attention to women’s secret history and lives” (x).
Sarah was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales on July 21, 1966. Her
father was an engineer, her mother was a stay-at-home mom, and she recalls her
childhood as being “pretty idyllic.” Encouraged in her creativity especially by
her father, Sarah spent her youth making crafts, writing poems, and overall
being “a bit of a nerd.” After graduating high school, she went on to earn
degrees from the University of Kent, Lancaster University, and Queen Mary,
University of London. Her research for her PhD thesis, Wolfskins and Togas: Lesbian and Gay Historical Fictions, 1870 to the Present,
served as the foundation for many of her future novels.
Her first novel, Tipping
the Velvet, was published in 1998 and was an instant success. Telling a
love story between two women in 1890s London and named after Victorian slang
for oral sex between women, Tipping the
Velvet has been translated into over 24 different languages and was adapted
into a popular BBC miniseries in 2002. To date, Sarah has written 6 novels in
total which have earned her several Lambda Literary Awards and two separate “Writer
of the Year” awards at the Stonewall Awards. Her 2002 novel Fingersmith was also been adapted into a
miniseries in 2005 and also served as the inspiration for Park Chan-wook’s 2016
film The Handmaiden.
The Handmaiden, adapted from Sarah Waters’s novel Fingersmith, was the breakout film from 2016′s Cannes Film Festival (x).
In a 2015 interview with AfterEllen, Sarah reflects on how
her own identity affects her writing by saying, “I’m writing with a clear
lesbian agenda in the novels. It’s right there at the heart of the books…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.“ Sarah currently
lives in London with her partner Lucy Vaughan.