The Booker Prize-winning British novelist Barry Unsworth, known for his historical fiction, has died aged 81 in Italy, his publisher in London said Friday.
Unsworth, from Durham in northeastern England, wrote 17 novels and won the Booker prize in 1992 for "Sacred Hunger", about the 18th-century Atlantic slave trade. The prize was shared with Michael Ondaatje for "The English Patient".
His latest novel was "The Quality of Mercy", which follows characters first introduced in "Sacred Hunger".
He had lived in Umbria, Italy, for several years.
Jocasta Hamilton, publishing director of Hutchinson, said: "Many of us met Barry when he visited London in 2010 and were as charmed in person as we have been thrilled by his novels.
"Barry's work was characterised by a willingness to tackle big subjects with great humanity.
"His writing bought enormous pleasure as well as being thought-provoking and illuminating."
Unsworth was a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, who had taught at the Universities of Athens and Istanbul in the 1960s and travelled extensively.
"All my fiction starts from a feeling of unique perception, the pressure of a secret, a story that needs to be told," he said in an author statement on the website of the British Council, the country's cultural outreach organisation.
The cause of his death was lung cancer, said Lois Wallace, his literary agent in the United States, according to the New York Times.