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A Tribute to Colleen McCullough

Colleen McCullough changed the landscape of Australian literature forever when she burst onto the international stage with her critically acclaimed novel The Thorn Birds in 1977. She decided to leave behind a career in medical science, in order to “live on her own terms” and focus on her writing. She wrote 23 novels and 1 biography between 1974 and 2013, and was working on the sequel to her last novel, Bittersweet, when she passed away.

“Colleen has written her final word but she lives on in bookshelves and libraries around the world – and in the hearts of all who loved her.”
– Opposition Leader Bill Shorten

“Colleen McCullough’s contribution to Australian writing—and to readers around the world—has been immense. She was one of the first Australian writers to succeed on the world stage: the signing and publication in 1977 of The Thorn Birds by Harper & Row in New York made international headlines, and the book went on to sell 30 million copies worldwide… The Thorn Birds’ popularity endures to this day: it remains the highest selling novel in Australia, as well as the highest selling Australian novel throughout the world.”
– Shona Martyn, publishing director at HarperCollins

MR edited


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