Tuesday 20 August 2019

Tipping The Velvet author Sarah Waters ‘delighted and dazed’ by OBE honour

Her books have received lavish screen adaptations.

Sarah Waters has been made an OBE (Anthony Devlin/PA)
Sarah Waters has been made an OBE (Anthony Devlin/PA)

By Laura Harding, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Author Sarah Waters has said she is “delighted and a little bit dazed” at being made an OBE for services to literature in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Famed for her raunchy novels featuring lesbian protagonists, including Tipping The Velvet and Fingersmith, Waters is one of Britain’s most successful novelists.

In a statement to the Press Association, she said: “Writing is, by its nature, a very solitary pursuit: you spend most of your time as an author hidden away.

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Sarah Waters becomes an OBE (Yui Mok/PA)

“So to receive this kind of very public honour is a huge thrill. I’m absolutely delighted, and a little bit dazed.”

Born in Pembrokeshire in 1966, Waters worked as an academic before writing her first novel immediately after her doctoral thesis.

Her debut, Tipping The Velvet, was published in 1998 to critical acclaim and won the Lambda Literary Award and the Betty Trask Award, given to Commonwealth citizens who have produced their first novel before reaching the age of 35. The New York Times also included it on its list of notable books of the year.

In 2002, Andrew Davies adapted it into a three-part drama for BBC Two, starring Keeley Hawes and Rachael Stirling, with Waters making a cameo appearance.

Her subsequent books, Affinity, Fingersmith, The Night Watch and The Little Stranger, have also been adapted for the screen.

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Fingersmith was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2002 (Chris Young/PA)

The BBC version of Fingersmith starred Sally Hawkins and Imelda Staunton, while the 2017 film The Handmaiden transported the Victorian novel to 1930s Korea.

The Night Watch, The Little Stranger and 2014’s The Paying Guests were a departure for Waters, set outside the Victoria era.

The first two were set in the 1940s, and the latter in the 1920s.

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The Night Watch was also shortlisted for the Booker Prize (Lewis Whyld/PA)

The Little Stranger, which was made into a film starring Ruth Wilson last year, was also notable as Waters’ first novel without any lesbian characters.

In contrast, the author told The Guardian of The Paying Guests: “I wanted it to be the big lesbian love story.

“I wanted to throw everything at it. In the end I put way too much sex in, so I had to take some out.”

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