This book chapter explores the meanings of women’s literal and metaphorical imprisonment in Sarah Waters’s neo-Victorian novel 'Affinity' (1999), a ghost story, and her 'Fingersmith' (2002), an exposé of London’s criminal underworld and England’s pornographic fiction-trafficking elite. The chapter argues that every woman in Waters’s texts is trapped; the queerly imprisoned, her primary focus, are simply more visibly so. It compares literal prison (local houses of correction, national penitentiaries and the lunatic asylum) with metaphorical imprisonment (which can take place anywhere, but notable focus is on the houses of the wealthy). Hughes-Edwards concludes by considering the value of liberty and of (often lesbian) love to the lives of the incarcerated, and reflects on some of the contemporary cultural implications which Waters’s work has for feminist readers.
|Title of host publication||Sarah Waters and Contemporary Feminisms|
|Editors||Jones Adele, O’Callaghan Claire|
|Place of Publication||Basingstoke|
|Number of pages||24|
|Publication status||Published - 8 Aug 2016|
Hughes-Edwards, M. (2016). ‘Better a prison … than a madhouse!’: Incarceration and the Neo-Victorian Fictions of Sarah Waters’. In J. Adele, & OC. Claire (Eds.), Sarah Waters and Contemporary Feminisms (pp. 133-151). Palgrave Macmillan.