Colleen McCullough, author of the enormously popular 1977 Australian romance The Thorn Birds, passed away on Thursday in Norfolk Island due to kidney failure. When the novel was first published, McCullough received $1.9 million for the paperback rights to The Thorn Birds–a record at the time. Since then, more than 30 million copies have been sold worldwide. This success enabled her to trade her poorly-paid career as a neurophysiologist for a life in writing.
The Thorn Birds, a romance novel about the Cleary dynasty and the forbidden relationship between Maggie and Catholic priest Ralph de Bricassart, later spawned the TV mini-series of the same name starring Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward. According to the New York Times, the mini-series was seen by more than 100 million people.
McCullough went on to write more than 20 books, including a memoir and two series -one of them about the saga of ancient Rome and its rulers. Although the public loved her work and consumed it accordingly, literary critics were not always kind. They decried her style of dialogue and her frequent use of exclamation points. McCullough, however, was unaffected by criticism. In fact, she was well known for her immovable self-confidence and strong opinions.
The New York Times quotes McCullough’s 2007 response to her critics on Australian Television: “I think in their heart of hearts all these people know that I’m more secure than they are, more confident than they are, and smarter than they are.” Who can argue with that?
Titles by Colleen McCullough in the TBP collection:
- TIM (1974) LB 01728
- THORN BIRDS (1977) BR 04284 / DB 51148 / DX 51148 / LB 02198
- INDECENT OBSESSION (1981) BR 05058 / LB 02873
- CREED FOR THE THIRD MILLENNIUM (1985) BR 06186 / RC 21535 / DX 21535
- LADIES OF MISSALONGHI (1987) BR 06907 / RC 25980 / DB 25980 (digital format of this title currently for download only)
- FIRST MAN IN ROME: MASTERS OF ROME, BOOK 1 (1990) RC 32043 / DB 32043 (digital format of this title currently for download only)
- GRASS CROWN: MASTERS OF ROME, BOOK 2 (1991) RC 33912 / DX 33912
- FORTUNE’S FAVORITES: MASTERS OF ROME, BOOK 3 (1993) DX 37495
- CAESAR’S WOMEN: MASTERS OF ROME, BOOK 4 (1996) DX 41781
- CAESAR: LET THE DICE FLY. MASTERS OF ROME, BOOK 5 (1997) DX 45492
- OCTOBER HORSE: MASTERS OF ROME, BOOK 6 (2002) RC 56136 / DX 56136
- ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA: MASTERS OF ROME, BOOK 7 (2007) RC 66004 / DB 66004
- MORGAN’S RUN (2000) DB 50934 (digital format for this title currently for download only)
- TOUCH (2003) DB 57769
- INDEPENDENCE OF MISS MARY BENNET (2008) DB 68680