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Sapphic Trailblazer: Sarah Waters

Sapphic Trailblazers
Sarah Waters: The Sapphic Trailblazer Behind Captivating Historical Fiction

Welcome to our latest blog post, where we explore the fascinating life and career of sapphic trailblazer, Sarah Waters.

We’ll delve into her early life, cultural influences, and incredible literary achievements. Discover her impact as a role model for the LGBTQ community and uncover three lesser-known facts about this captivating author.

Let’s dive in!

A Wordsmith’s Journey: Sarah Waters Early Life and Cultural Influences

Born on July 21, 1966, in Neyland, Pembrokeshire, Wales, Sarah Ann Waters family life was “pretty idyllic, very safe and nurturing”.

Waters has said in a 2006 interview, “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.”

While she wrote stories in her childhood, she didn’t feel a pull to become a writer.

Fascinated by the world of books from a young age, Waters went on to study English Literature at the University of Kent before earning her PhD in English from Queen Mary University of London.

Her PhD thesis, titled Wolfskins and Togas : Lesbian and Gay Historical Fictions, 1870 to the Present, along with her passion for historical research, laid the foundation for her unique writing style.

She’s been inspired by many authors including Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Mary Shelley, the Brontës, John Fowles, A. S. Byatt, and Angela Carter.

Her exploration of lesbian relationships within historical contexts has provided a fresh perspective on the past, making her work both groundbreaking and captivating.

Penning Queer History: Career Achievements and LGBTQ Advocacy

Sarah Waters’s debut novel, Tipping the Velvet (1998), catapulted her into literary stardom. Set in Victorian England, the novel follows the tumultuous love affair between two women, offering a sensual and vivid portrayal of queer relationships during that time. Waters has since published several successful novels, including Fingersmith (2002) and The Night Watch (2006), all of which feature strong, complex LGBTQ characters.

Waters’s work has not only garnered critical acclaim but has also helped increase visibility and representation for the LGBTQ community within the literary world. By showcasing the rich and diverse experiences of queer individuals throughout history, she has inspired countless readers to embrace their authentic selves and learn more about LGBTQ history.

Three Lesser-Known Facts About Sarah Waters

  • Waters’s novel Fingersmith was adapted by South Korean director Park Chan-wook into the 2016 film The Handmaiden, which set the story in Japanese-occupied Korea in the 1930s.
  • The Night Watch took Waters 4 years to write and she had this to say about it: 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.
  • Tipping the Velvet has been translated into at least 24 languages, including Chinese, Latvian, Hungarian, Korean and Slovenian.

A Lasting Legacy: The Importance of Sarah Waters’s Impact

Sarah Waters’s literary achievements have not only entertained readers worldwide but also played a crucial role in increasing visibility and understanding of the LGBTQ community. Her dedication to crafting engaging, historically accurate narratives featuring queer characters has helped break down barriers and foster greater acceptance.

Her life and career serve as powerful examples of the importance of authenticity, representation, and storytelling in literature. As we celebrate her achievements and continued success, let us also remember the lasting impact she has had on the LGBTQ community and beyond.

Find out more about Sarah Waters in this Wikipedia article.

Sarah Waters on writing: ‘If I waited for inspiration to strike, it would never happen!’

Join us each day in June for a new story of a sapphic trailblazer as IHS celebrates Pride month!

Sapphic Trailblazers: Tales of sapphics through the ages

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