Beloved Literary Legend dies

One of Australia’s top-selling novelists, Colleen McCullough, who wrote that salacious best-seller, The Thorn Birds, has died on Norfolk Island, aged 77.

It was the story of a celibate priest trapped between his vows of the Catholic church and his passionate love of a woman. The American paperback rights worth $1.9 million alone allowed her to become a full-time author and live her life on Norfolk Island.

The Thorn Birds, written in 1977 when she was 39 years old and was made into a sexy miniseries with the dashing Richard Chamberlain, and Australian actors Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward in 1983, although the typical Hollywood ending was dramatically changed.

McCullough had many strings to her career bow before abandoning it all to become an author.  She had been a librarian, journalist, research associate and a neuroscientist, before teaching in the Department of Neurology at the Yale Medical School in the United States.

Her first novel,  Tim, about a middle-aged woman’s unlikely romance with a good-looking, intellectually disabled handyman, changed the direction of her life.  It sold well and was also made into a film starring Mel Gibson in 1979.

Other notable books were An Indecent Obsession (1981) and the Masters of Rome series, which she wrote over a 17 year period from 1990-2007.

McCullough was born on June 1, 1937 in Wellington in Central NSW and died on January 29, 2015 on Norfolk Island.  She suffered health problems for much of her life including weight gain and depression. In her later life, she became vision-impaired. She is survived by her husband of 30 years, Ric Robinson, who lived with her on Norfolk Island.



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