Sunderland author dies of cancer

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A BOOKER Prize-winning author from the North East has died of cancer at the age of 81.

Durham-born Barry Unsworth, the son of a miner who left the pit at 19 to work in insurance, enjoyed his first literary success in 1966 with The Partnership.

He was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1980 for Pascali’s Island and then shared the first place when he won with Sacred Hunger, based on a 18th-century slave trader, when he was declared joint winner with Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient.

He was shortlisted again in 1995 for Morality Play.

His latest novel, The Quality of Mercy, is shortlisted for the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction, which will be announced on Saturday.

Mr Unsworth became a specialist in historical fiction after beginning to write when he moved to France. He and also spent time living in Italy.