Joint winner of the 1992 Booker Prize
1752, the Liverpool Merchant sets sail from Merseydale. A slaver, she is bound for Africa to buy men and transport them in chains across the Atlantic. But aboard the ship disease thrives in the cramped hold, killing men and eating into profit. Captain Thruso insists on throwing the sick overboard – the the horror of Matthew Paris, ship’s surgeon, who determines to prevent such barbarity. Meanwhile, back home, Erasmus Kemp, cousin of Paris and son of the Liverpool Merchant‘s owner, finds his fortune hanging in the balance: depending on the success or failure of a single voyage.
Barry Unsworth was born in 1930 in a mining village in Durham, and he attended Stockton-on-Tees Grammar School and Manchester University. He has spent a number of years in the Eastern Mediterranean area and has taught English in Athens and Istanbul. He now lives in Italy.
His first novel, The Partnership, was published in 1966. This was followed by The Greeks Have a Word for It (1967); The Hide (1970); Mooncranker's Gift, which received the Heinemann Award for 1973; Pascali's Island, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1980 and has been filmed; Stone Virgin (1985); Sugar and Rum (1990); The Rage of the Vulture (1991); Sacred Hunger, which was joint winner of the 1992 Booker Prize; Morality Play, which was shortlisted for the 1995 Booker Prize; After Hannibal, Losing Nelson and The Songs of the Kings. The Ruby In Her Navel is his most recent novel. Many of his books are published by Penguin.
Barry Unsworth is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.