Sarah Waters Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Tipping the Velvet (1998) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Affinity (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Fingersmith (2002) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Night Watch (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Little Stranger (2009) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Paying Guests (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Anthologies

Dancing with Mr. Darcy (2009) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Sarah Waters is a female Welsh novelist who was born in Neyland, Pembrokeshire on 21st July 1966. The female author grew in a family comprising of Mr. Ron, who was her father, Mary her mother and a sister. Sarah, who is best known for featuring unique lesbian protagonists, including Fingersmith and Tipping the Velvet as well as her novel set in Victorian society is also a scholar with a Ph.D. in English Literature.

Her mother was a respectable housewife while her father was a qualified engineer who worked on oil refineries. Waters loves to describe her family as “a very safe, pretty idyllic and nurturing family.” Sarah attributes her creativity to her father who constantly encouraged her to build and invent whenever possible. She spent most of her childhood writing stories and poems that she often described as ‘dreadful gothic pastiches’ and constructing a variety of things from plasticine, Meccano or papier-mâché.

Although Sarah waters had an early passion for writing, she did not consider it a career choice in her youthful years. Waters attended the Milford Haven Grammar School after which she enrolled in the university where she earned various degrees in English Literature. Sarah Waters later became an accredited scholar as she received a BA from the University of Kent, a Ph.D. from Queen Mary, University of London and an MA from the University of Lancaster.

The Ph.D. thesis entitled ‘Wolfskins and togas: lesbians and gay historical fictions, 1870 to the present’ that she wrote served as a great inspiration and insight for writing as well as priceless reference material for her future books. During her research on the 19th- century pornography Waters stumbled on the name ‘Tipping the Velvet’ which she later came to use as the title of her first book. Other popular classics of Victorian literature are also attributed to playing an enormous part in her debut novel.

Before deciding to venture into novel writing as a career, Sarah Waters, who now resides in a Victorian flat in Kennington, southeast London spent most of her early days as an academic scholar, earning a doctorate and teaching like-minded students. Unlike other popular authors, most of Sarah’s novels are research- intensive, hence most of the characters, events and settings depicted in them have probably happened. Sarah briefly became a member of long- running London North Writers circle whose members have included great writers such as Neil Blackmore, Charles Palliser among others.

Sarah has earned the title ‘lesbian writer’ due to the fact that all her books apart from ‘The Little Stranger’ have always contained lesbian characters and themes. Although she happens to develop most of her lesbian characters from historical happenings, Sarah also considers her lesbian protagonists an incidental result of her own sexual orientation.


Sarah Waters has managed to be nominated for various awards as well as win some in her career as a writer. Some of the prestigious awards she has managed to win include the ‘Betty Trask Award for the novel Tipping the Velvet, the South Bank Show Award for Literature and CWA Historical Dagger for the novel Fingersmith, the novel Affinity won the Somerset Maugham Award and the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. Sarah was also included in the Granta’s prestigious list of ‘Best of Young British Novelists 2003. In the same year, she was voted by both booksellers and publishers in the British Book Awards as the Author of the Year.

Books/ Characters written by Sarah Waters

“Tipping the Velvet”

Tipping the Velvet is a delicious, steamy historical novel that is set in Victorian England during the 1890s. It is a well-told story about a young woman by the name Nan King, who also happens to be the main protagonist and how she ends up experiencing new sexual fantasies. Nan falls in love with Miss Kitty Butler, who is a male impersonator working as a cross- dressing music hall singer. She becomes quite smitten by the singer and soon they both have an intimate relationship.

Nan who begins her life as an oyster girl working in the provincial seaside town of Whitstablelater decides to follow the impersonator all the way to London. This happens when Kitty is called up to London for an engagement on “Grease Paint Avenue.”

Nan who is quite determined not to lose her new lover decides to follow Miss Kitty Butler in secrecy and is forced to don trousers herself in an attempt to blend with her partner. Unfortunately, all is not well as Kitty ends up breaking poor Nan’s heart. Nan then decides to commence her own varied and thrilling sexual education as a form of revenge and in a desperate attempt to forget about her secret lover.

The erotic, lushly detailed historical novel bursts with life, casting the century in a completely different light. Tipping the Velvet was highly acclaimed during its time making it to be chosen by The New York Times and The Library Journal as one of the best books of the year 1998.

“The Playing Guests”

The Playing Guests is a novel which was shortlisted for the ‘Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and labeled ‘Fiction Book of the Year by The Sunday Times. It is an interesting story set in the year 1922 in Camberwell during the hard economic times. During this time, life in London is really tense evident by the disillusioned ex- servicemen and the hungry, jobless people who are demanding for an immediate change in their present situation.

Sarah happens to use this bleak situation to develop an interesting love story that is sure to blow the reader’s mind. This story is set in a genteel Camberwell villa owned by the now impoverished widowed Mrs. Wray, who is living together with her spinster daughter called Frances. Just like the rest of the citizens, the Ways are also feeling the economic pinch making them result in deciding to take in lodgers to beat the hard economic times.

A modern young couple of the “clerk Class” going by the names Lillian and Leonard Barber decide to rent a room in the large silent house now bereft of servants, brothers or husbands. They arrive at the Wray’s residence and end up bringing new excitement while shaking up the establishment in various unexpected ways. The new tenants are determined to change France’s life for good as they plan to open her mind to a sexual reality she never thought existed before. The passions and frustrations which are soon to gather end up having devastating and far- reaching disturbances to all.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Sarah Waters