Australian Newspaper Insults Neuroscientist Colleen McCullough

Australia’s national print newspaper, The Australian, printed what can be assumed was an inadvertently insulting obituary of Colleen McCullough, author of the 30-million-copies-sold classic, “The Thorn Birds”. McCullough’s accomplishments took a backseat to this opening line:

“Colleen McCullough, Australia’s best-selling author, was a charmer,” the obituary began. “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.”

Obit McCullough

McCullough was not just a best-selling novelist. She actually spearheaded the establishment of the neurophysiology department at Sydney’s Royal North Shore Hospital. She spent a decade in the 60’s and 70’s teaching in the Department of Neurology at the Yale Medical School in New Haven, Connecticut, United States. She wrote one of the most watched tv mini-series of all time. That’s right, her physical appearance took a backseat to her position as neuroscientist. So, like, she was fat? Oh, and she wrote 25 novels. NBD

Twitter users responded by posting their own insulting obituaries in solidarity and outrage at #myozobituary (currently trending)trending on Twitter.

Not to be outdone and possibly seeing a chance to take a shot at another print publication, The Washington Post wrote. “Now that I know, here are some obituaries for men, updated lest we fall behind the new standard. Teddy Roosevelt: Resembling a fat walrus in little spectacles, he was, nevertheless, president at one point or another.”

McCullough fought a long string of illnesses before dying last Thursday in a hospital in Norfolk Island, Australia. She had continued writing books for the last 4 decades, with her final novel “Bittersweet” released 2 years ago.

Her most famous novel, “The Thorn Birds,” first printed back in  1977, was made into a  television miniseries in 1983 and starred Richard Chamberlain, Rachel Ward and Christopher Plummer. It won four Golden Globe awards. The Australian‘s editor Clive Mathieson declined comment when contacted by The Associated Press over the weekend.

Jonathan Howard
Jonathan is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, NY