Barry Unsworth, considered one of the foremost historical novelists in English, who was known for rich, densely textured fiction that conjured lost worlds — those of the Trojan War, medieval Europe and the Napoleonic age, among many others — died on Tuesday in Perugia, Italy. He was 81 and had lived in the Umbria region of Italy for many years.

The cause was lung cancer, said Lois Wallace, his literary agent in the United States.

An Englishman, Mr. Unsworth won a Booker Prize in 1992 for “Sacred Hunger,” a story of avarice set amid the Atlantic slave trade of the 18th century. The award, now known as the Man Booker Prize, is considered Britain’s loftiest literary honor. (Mr. Unsworth shared it that year with Michael Ondaatje, who won for “The English Patient.”)...