Colleen McCullough’s most famous book, The Thorn Birds, sold more than 33 million copies globally. It is Australia’s highest selling book of all time.
McCullough had published 25 books before she died, aged 77, on her beloved Norfolk Island yesterday.
Fellow author and friend Matt Condon once described her laugh as “so deep and true you might once have been able to hear it, with the right wind conditions, past the airport windsock and all the way across the island”. Profiling her two years ago, Condon said:
Hers is a face that was once dominated by her happy disposition, her humour, her ability to laugh at herself and life’s absurdities, a window to a force of nature that relegated her substantial intellect to the background. With age, her wisdom and knowledge have finally come to the fore, have hijacked the winsome, and given her a face that is stately, that is noble, and underwritten with pain.
The Australian in its opening paragraph of its obituary today described McCullough as “a charmer” who was “plain of feature, and certainly overweight” but had “wit and warmth”.
The reaction to remembering Australia’s most successful author by with such a brutal assessment of physical features was swift and savage and best summed up by journalist Georgina Dent.
— Georgina Dent (@georgiedent) January 30, 2015
Social media then took over and #MyOzObituary then began to trend as people began to parody the comments.
An amusing riposte came from Sydney Morning Herald arts editor Joel Meares, who parodied the obituary’s style to mark the passing of some of the world’s most famous authors, from Tolkien to Twain.