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Sarah Waters

Sarah's six novels have won or been shortlisted for multiple high-profile prizes.

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The Welsh writer was born in 1966 and studied for a BA in English Literature from the University of Kent, and an MA from the University of Lancaster.

Waters completed her PhD at Queen Mary, University of London, with her thesis, Wolfskins and togas : lesbian and gay historical fictions, 1870 to the present, inspiring and providing material for future books set in the Victorian, Edwardian, and WW2 eras.

Her six novels have won or been shortlisted for multiple high-profile prizes. The highly-acclaimed Tipping the Velvet (1998) was written in the 18 months after Waters completed her PhD, and went on to win the Betty Trask Award.

Affinity (1999) won the Somerset Maugham Award, the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award and was shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday / John Llewellyn Rhys Prize; Fingersmith (2002) was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize and won the South Bank Show Award for Literature and the CWA Historical Dagger; The Night Watch (2006) reached the shortlist for the Orange Prize and the Man Booker Prize; The Little Stranger (2009) was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the South Bank Show Literature Award.

The south east London resident’s most recent work The Paying Guests (2014), which is set in 1920s south London, was shortlisted for The Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction in 2015.

Commenting on her Honorary Fellowship, Sarah said: “To be receiving an Honorary Fellowship from Goldsmiths, with its fantastic reputation, its longstanding commitment to creativity, innovation and debate, is hugely exciting. I've been an admirer of the university for a long time, and am touched and thrilled that my work is being celebrated in this way.”

Whether historical romp or epic love story, Waters has previously explained that the majority of her works have "a common agenda in teasing out lesbian stories from parts of history that are regarded as quite heterosexual".

In a 2014 article for The Independent, journalist Danuta Kean wrote of Waters’ fans: they have “a sort of devotion and sense that – gay or straight – Waters is ours, the women’s writer, chronicler of our lives, passions and struggles”.

From BBC2’s 2002 three-part adaptation of Tipping the Velvet to the May 2016 stage production of The Night Watch at the Royal Exchange, Manchester, many of her books have now been adapted for stage or screen.

Quotes from Sarah's graduation speech on 14 July 2016

"You’re all leaving Goldsmiths with many ambitions, some of you like me might want to read more books, some of you may never want to read a book again. Some of you might want to write books. You need to cultivate skills, and have patience, self belief, and nerdiness helps – the ability to dedicate yourself to isolation…"

"Empathy is the most valuable quality of all, not just for novelists but for all of us." 

"When empathy fails catastrophe follows."