Colleen McCullough was born in western New South Wales in 1937. A neuroscientist by training, she worked in various Sydney and English hospitals before settling into ten years of research and teaching in the Department of Neurology at the Yale Medical School in the USA. In 1974 her first novel, Tim, was published in New York, followed by the bestselling The Thorn Birds in 1977 and a string of successful novels, including the acclaimed Masters of Rome series. In 1980 she settled in Norfolk Island, where she lives with her husband, Ric Robinson, and a cat named Shady. She passed away on January 29, 2015, at the age of 77.