Barry Unsworth

(b. 1930)

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(1930– ),

novelist, born in Durham to a mining family, and educated at the University of Manchester. The wide range of his subsequent travels and his interest in history are reflected in his novels, which include The Partnership (1966), Moonraker's Gift (1973), Pascali's Island (1980), and Stone Virgin (1985). Sacred Hunger (1992, joint winner of the Booker Prize) is a powerful and carefully researched narrative set in the mid‐17th cent. describing the voyage (and appalling conditions on board) of a slave ship, the Liverpool Merchant, from England to Africa to America, where some of the crew and the surviving slaves set up a commune under the influence of the principles of Rousseau. The ship's freethinking doctor becomes a leader in this new world, but is pursued by the son of the doomed ship's bankrupt owner, motivated by vengeance and the ‘sacred hunger’ for profit. Later novels include Morality Play (1995), a detective story set amidst a troupe of medieval travelling players; After Hannibal (1996), a fable of greed and exploitation set in modern summer‐home Umbria; and The Ruby in Her Navel (2006), set in the 12th cent.

Subjects: Literature.

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