Renowned author and Booker Prize winner Barry Unsworth has died at the age of 81. He was best known for his historical fiction.
The author (born in 1930) was a British novelist who generally wrote historical fiction. The BBC quotes the author as saying the following in relation to his favored genera:
"The fascination for writing historical novels is that things were different but they were the same. You say something that is true of the 18th Century, but at the same time you are saying something that is true of our time as well."
In total Barry Unsworth published 17 novels and won several accolades. These included being shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times, and winning one occasion for his novel "Sacred Hunger" in 1992. Other awards included the Heinemann Award for his book "Mooncranker's Gift" (1973) and he recently reached the 2012 Walter Scott Prize shortlist for his novel "The Quality of Mercy".
According to The Daily Telegraph's obituary Unsworth was born in Wingate, a mining village in County Durham, England. After an early career in teaching and lecturing, he wrote his first novel "The Partnership", which was published in 1966. This proved be the springboard to a successful career. Unsworth spent his last few years living in the Umbria region of Italy, where, the New York Times notes, he died aged 81 of ling cancer.
The Booker winning novel "Sacred Hunger" is set in the mid 18th century and centers around a slave ship called the Liverpool Merchant and describes the horrors of the Atlantic slave trade.
The publishing director Jocasta Hamilton paid tribute, as quoted in The Guardian, by saying "Barry was a wonderful writer and this is a great loss...Barry's work was characterised by a willingness to tackle big subjects with great humanity. His writing brought enormous pleasure as well as being thought-provoking and illuminating. We are incredibly proud to have had the opportunity to publish his last novel, The Quality of Mercy, which has been shortlisted for the Walter Scott prize. Many of us met him in 2010 and were as charmed in person as we had been thrilled by his novels."
The Guardian has Unsworth's final interview, available as a podcast, where the author discusses his final novel "The Quality of Mercy". This latest work is a 'sequel' to his Booker winning novel.