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Colleen McCullough Dead: ‘The Thorn Birds’ Author Dies At 77

Thu, January 29, 2015 8:08am EDT by 2 Comments
Colleen McCullough Dead
Express Newspapers/Getty Images

So sad. Best-selling Australian author Colleen McCullough died on Jan. 29 after battling a long illness. She was 77.

One of the world’s most internationally famous Australian authors has passed away. Colleen McCullough died on Jan. 29 on Norfolk Island at the age of 77. Her best-known work, The Thorn Birds, sold 30 million copies over the course of her career. She will be missed.

Colleen McCullough Dead: ‘The Thorn Birds’ Author Dies At 77

Colleen had been battling an unknown illness for quite some time. However, her health and eyesight problems over the years never stopped her from producing books. She continued her work as an author through dictation, Harper Collins Australia publishing director Shona Martyn said in a statement, according to ABC News.

Her first novel, Tim, was published in 1974. The book became a movie starring Mel Gibson in 1979.

The Thorn Birds was published in 1977. The book became a critically-acclaimed mini-series in 1983 starring Richard ChamberlainChristopher Plummer and Rachel Ward. The mini-series was one of the most watched of all time and won four Golden Globes awards in 1984.

She wrote 25 novels over the course of her career, including the seven novel series Masters of Rome and her Carmine Delmonico series. Her last book, Bittersweet, was published in 2013.

Colleen originally studied at Sydney University to become a medical doctor. She had to nix that career path after she found out she was allergic to the antiseptic soap that surgeons used to wash their hands. She switched to neuroscience and spent 10 years at Yale Medical School. She founded the neurophysiology department at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital.

Colleen is survived by her husband, Ric Robinson. The couple married in 1983.

Our thoughts go out to Colleen’s family and friends during this difficult time. Her incredible novels will live on forever.

— Avery Thompson