The Paying Guests The Little Stranger The Night Watch Fingersmith by Sarah Waters Affinity by Sarah Waters Tipping The Velvet by Sarah Waters

Discover Sarah Waters' London – and win a complete set of all her books
17th August 2015

A prize for the intrepid reader who can provide us with old period photos of some of the spots in Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guests!

Sarah Waters is passionate about London and that passion shows in her novels, where London figures as strongly as her characters. The Paying Guests is set in 1922 in south London and features many local landmarks. Below we've listed some of those that appear early on in the novel – including Champion Hill where it’s set – along with relevant extracts from the book.

Photos of these places are not always easy to find, but we'd love to see 1920s photos of these locations or others from the book such as: Walworth Road, of Horseferry Road, Strutton Ground, Clerkenwell, Lambeth Police Court, The Old Bailey, Blackfriars Bridge.

So here's your chance to get researching – like Sarah Waters did when writing The Paying Guests – and win her books.

 

CHAMPION HILL

'The grand houses opposite had a Sunday blankness to them – but then, they had that every day of the week. Around the corner there was a large hotel, and motor-cars and taxi-cabs occasionally came this way to and from it; sometimes people strolled up here as if to take the air. But Champion Hill on the whole, kept itself to itself. The gardens were large, the trees leafy. You would never know, she thought, that grubby Camberwell was just down there. You’d never guess that a mile or two north lay London, life, glamour, all that.’

 

GOLDEN DOMES CINEMA, DENMARK HILL

‘She had – what did she have? Little successes in the kitchen. The cigarette at the end of the day. Cinema with her mother on a Wednesday . . .

“I suppose we might have asked Mrs Barber to come along with us today.”

Her mother looked doubtful. “Mrs Barber? To the picture-house?”

“You’d rather we didn’t?”

. . .In any case, the programme that week was disappointing. The first few films were all right, but the drama was a dud, an American thriller with a plot full of holes. She and her mother slipped away before the final act, hoping not to draw the notice of the small orchestra – Mrs Wray saying, as she often did, what a pity it was that the pictures nowadays had so much unpleasantness in them.’

 

RUSKIN PARK

‘She and Mrs Barber settled on their destination – Ruskin Park, just down the hill, the most ordinary, small, unthrilling, neat and tidy place, with flower-beds and tennis courts and a stand for the band on Sundays . . .

The park had a charm today that she couldn’t recall it ever having had before. Its very neatness seemed appealing, everything in such perfect trim, the lawns clipped, the bed of gaudy flowers like icing piped on a cake  . . .

They moved on at a livelier pace – making now for the band-stand, a quaint octagonal pavilion with a red tiled roof. They crossed the gravel, climbed the steps, and the wooden floor must have made Mrs Barber think of dancing: she went across it in the slow twirls of a graceful, unpartnered waltz.’

 

BRIXTON ROLLER SKATING RINK

‘She found herself at the colourful entrance to the Brixton Roller Skating Rink . . .

The building was huge, modern, charmless, like a giant church hall. The bunting that hung from the rafters was in faded Armistice colours, and the songs were mild old things from thirty or forty years before… It was still the school holidays, and children were darting like minnows, but there were courting couples too, and girls in pairs and groups, even the occasional game old lady… Every so often someone flailed like a windmill and went down, to cheers and hoots and sympathetic laughter; they’d pick themselves up, sheepish, hitting the chalk from their knees and behinds . . .

And in amongst them all glided Frances and Lillian, getting the hang of it, picking up speed . . . It was a lark, pure, childish.’

 

FRANCES’ JOURNEY FROM CAMBERWELL TO CENTRAL LONDON

‘She caught a bus as far as Vauxhall, and from there she crossed the river and wandered north, taking any street that caught her eye. She loved these walks through London. She seemed, as she made them, to become porous, to soak in detail after detail; or else like a battery, to become charged. .. She did her shopping at the market stalls of Strutton Ground, going from one stall to another before committing herself… She found a ‘cosy corner’ café and bought herself a hot lunch: eggs, chips, bread and butter, all for a shilling and sixpence, including a penny tip for the waitress.

There were no smart shops once she has crossed Oxford Circus. London made one its costume changes, like whipping off a cloak; it became a shabby muddle of pianola sellers, Italian grocers, boarding-houses, pubs. But she liked the names of the streets: Great Castle, Great Titchfield, Riding House, Ogle, Clipstone . . .’

Send us your links or photos of these or other spots from the novel to virago@littlebrown.co.uk and the best entry will win a complete set of Sarah Waters' novels.

Good luck!

The Paying Guests wins the Independent Bookshop Week Award!
19th June 2015

The Booksellers Association of UK and Ireland (The BA) today announced the winners for the Independent Bookshop Week Book Award 2015 (IBW Book Award), which is supported by independent bookshops across the country, and we are delighted to announce that Sarah Waters won in the adult category for The Paying Guests!

There were ten adult titles on the shortlist, which was selected by independent booksellers from nominations put forward by publishers. The other winners were Sally Nicholls in the Children's Fiction category for An Island of Our Own, and Salvatore Rubbino in the Children's Picture Book Category for A Walk in Paris.

Meryl Halls, Head of Membership Services, Booksellers Association, said: “The judges lunches were very lively affairs as they talked through the incredibly strong shortlists with passion, intelligence and a lot of enthusiasm. The winners of each category soon emerged as strong favourites and the judges were unanimous in their choices. On behalf of the Booksellers Association, I’d like to congratulate Sarah, Sally and Salvatore on winning this year’s awards.”

The Adult Category was judged by Patrick Neale (Chair); Emma Corfield (Book-ish, Crickhowell); Paul Wallace (David’s, Letchworth); Patrick Gale (author and 2008 IBW Book Award winner) and Cathy Rentzenbrink (Books Editor, The Bookseller).

Sarah Waters said: “It was a great honour to be on the shortlist for the Adult Category of the IBW book award, alongside so many fantastic authors and books. To have won is a huge thrill. I am absolutely delighted.”

Tipping the Velvet to be adapted for the stage!
17th April 2015

Sarah Waters’ debut novel, Tipping the Velvet, is to be adapted for the stage as part of the Lyric Hammersmith’s new season.

The play opens this autumn, and will run from 18th September to 24th October.

This new adaptation of the novel by acclaimed playwright Laura Wade (Posh, Royal Court/West End) has been in the planning for four years. It will be directed by Lyndsey Turner (Chimerica, Almeida/West End).

For tickets and more information visit the Lyric website

The play will also be running in Edinburgh at the Edinburgh Lyceum on the following dates:

w/c 26 October

w/c 02 November

w/c 09 November

w/c 16 November

Final performance: Saturday 21 November 2015

The Paying Guests shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction
14th April 2015

We are delighted to announce that The Paying Guests has been shortlisted for this year's Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.

The Paying Guests was chosen from a longlist of twenty books by a panel of judges chaired by Shami Chakrabarti (Director of Liberty) and including Channel 4 News presenter Cathy Newman, and the novelist and poet Helen Dunmore.

The winner will be announced on the 3rd June.

Launched in 1996, the Prize is awarded annually and celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world. The winner receives a cheque for £30,000 and a limited edition bronze known as a ‘Bessie’, created by the artist Grizel Niven.

For more information on the award, see here.