Best-Selling Thorn Birds Author Colleen McCullough Gets Sexist Obit

Obits are a tricky thing to write, but surely The Australian could have tried a little bit harder to be less sexist and tacky. The newspaper's obituary for best-selling author Colleen McCullough had fans around the world reeling in horror from the very first sentences. "Colleen McCullough, Australia's best-selling author, was a charmer. Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was, nevertheless, a woman of wit and warmth. In one interview, she said: 'I've never been into clothes or figure and the interesting thing is I never had any trouble attracting men.'"  The obituary goes on for several paragraphs about her personal life before even mentioning that she was a neurophysicist who, while working as a researcher at Yale, took up writing fiction in her spare time. In her spare time! You know, the time most of us spend refreshing Facebook and Twitter? Well, McCullough's second novel, The Thorn Birds, sold over 30 million copies worldwide since hitting shelves in 1977. The Thorn Birds was also developed into a mini-series starring Richard Chamberlain and Rachel Ward as star-crossed lovers.  Naturally, folks took to Twitter to express their anger, which resulted in the hashtag #MyOzObituary.

The sad truth is that writers like Gaiman don't have to
worry about what their obits would read; no one would mention how he looked or
what he weighed or even how adorably floppy his hair was over his
best-selling author status and contributions to all sorts of media. 

Along with being a female author, McCullough made the devastating mistake to write novels that primarily women (and, ahem, sexually curious teens) enjoyed — in addition to not being quite as toothsome as the obit's writer would wish. Although plenty of highfalutin folks sniffed at books like The Thorn Birds, its success and influence cannot be denied. RIP, Ms. McCullough.

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