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Obituary: Barry Unsworth (1930-2012)

14 Jun 2012

Booker prizewinner and University of Manchester Alumnus Barry Unsworth has died at the age of 81.

During his career Unsworth produced 17 novels, and was shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times, winning once for the 1992 novel Sacred Hunger.

Barry Forster Unsworth was born in the mining village of Wingate, Durham on the 10 August 1930 to Michael and Elsie Unsworth. His father was a miner from the age of 13 but managed to secure a job at an insurance company.

Despite being offered a place at Oxford University, he chose to study English at The University of Manchester from which he graduated in 1951.

He travelled extensively and worked mainly in education, while also writing. His fourth book Mooncranker’s Gift (1973) – influenced by American writers of the Deep South such as Eudora Welty – was his breakthrough, winning him the Heinemann Fiction Award.

Unsworth married Valerie Moor and had three daughters. He later married his second wife Aira Pohjanvaara-Buffa.

Barry Unsworth died on 5 June 2012.