Affinity (novel)

Last updated

First edition (p/b)
Author Sarah Waters
CountryUnited Kingdom
GenreHistorical fiction
Publication date
Media typePrint (Paperback)
ISBN 1-86049-691-1
OCLC 40714318

Affinity is a 1999 historical fiction novel by Sarah Waters. It is the author's second novel, following her debut Tipping the Velvet . Set during 1870's Victorian England, it tells the story of a woman, Margaret Prior, who is haunted by a shadowy past and in an attempt to cure her recent bout of illness and depression, begins visits to the women's wards of Millbank Prison. Whilst there she becomes entranced by the spiritualist Selina Dawes, with whom she becomes obsessed and begins an inappropriate relationship. Written as an epistolary novel, the story alternates as a series of diary entries written by both main characters.


Like her first novel, Affinity contains overarching lesbian themes, and was acclaimed by critics on its publication.


Margaret Prior (also called "Peggy" and "Aurora"), an unmarried woman from an upper-class family, visits the Millbank Prison in 1870s Victorian-era England. Margaret is generally unhappy, recovering from her father's death and her subsequent suicide attempt, and struggling with her lack of power living at home with her over-involved mother despite being almost 30. To counter this, she becomes a "Lady Visitor" of the prison's female wards, hoping to escape her troubles and be a guiding figure in the lives of the female prisoners. On her first visit she is entranced by the sight of a young woman with a flower, who reminds her of a Carlo Crivelli painting. She learns that this woman is Selina Dawes, who is a somewhat infamous medium of spirits jailed two years previously for the apparent death of the lady with whom she resided. After their early discussions Margaret begins to confide in Selina inappropriate details of her past, and learn more about spiritualism; before long, the relationship evolves and appears to take on a life of its own...




Awards and Citations

Film adaptation

The novel was adapted into a screenplay by Andrew Davies. A feature film based on Davies' adaptation of Affinity premiered on 19 June 2008 at the opening night of Frameline, the San Francisco International LGBT Film Festival, at the Castro Theater. [1] [2]

The film was first shown on ITV1 in the United Kingdom on 28 December 2008.



2006Hebrewזרעים של חיבה
2004RussianНить, сотканная из тьмы (издательство: Росмэн-Пресс)
2004PolishNiebanalna więź
2002GermanSelinas Geister

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  1. BBC – BBC Four – Books – Sarah Waters interview
  2. Frameline