Colleen McCullough (muh-KUHL-uhk) was born in Wellington, New South Wales, Australia, of Irish Catholic stock. Her mother was a New Zealander of Maori ancestry, her father a cutter of cane. She was educated at Holy Cross College and the University of Sydney. Excelling in science and widely read in the humanities, McCullough worked as a teacher, a library worker, and a bus driver. Economic realities and a soap allergy prevented a career in medicine; instead, she studied neurophysiology and became a neurology researcher in Sydney, in England, and at Yale University’s School of Internal Medicine. In 1993 Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, awarded McCullough the D.Litt. degree. On April 13, 1984, at age forty-six, McCullough married Ric Robinson, a housepainter who would later be a planter. She settled on Norfolk Island, Australia, about one thousand miles east of the mainland.
McCullough began writing seriously while at Yale, where, in the evenings, she wrote her first novel, Tim, and the novel that would establish her reputation and her professional career as a writer, The Thorn Birds. Planning, often for years, before actually writing contributed to her speedy composition.
McCullough writes in a variety of genres. Tim, set in Sydney, can be only loosely labeled a romance, or a novel of awakenings. Tim Melville, a mentally retarded but handsome man of twenty-five, marries a woman of forty-three in order to gain future security for himself after his mother dies. In the end, both partners grow and mature in different ways. Two important themes concern emotional and social growth and the response by society to people who are...
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