Colleen McCullough, author of The Thorn Birds, has died

Ladies of MissalonghiColleen McCullough, the author of The Thorn Birds, , died this week aged 77. The Australian writer published 25 novels in total and Shona Martyn of HarperCollins Australia said she was  “one of the first Australian writers to succeed on the world stage”.

The Thorn Birds was her second novel, a story of forbidden love between a priest and a young woman in the Australian outback, and it caused a bidding war for publishers back in 1976. The The thorn birdsnovel’s paperback rights went on to be sold for £1.25m and it was also made into a mini series in 1983.

Her latest book is Ladies of Missalonghi, already on order: The Hurlingford family have ruled the small town of Byron, nestled in the Blue Mountains, for generations. Wealthy, powerful and cruel, they get what they want, every time. Missy Wright’s mother, a Hurlingford by birth, has been shunned by her family since marrying for love, not money. Now widowed, the women live a quiet existence in genteel poverty. Plain, thin and unforgivably single, it seems Missy’s life is destined to be dreary. But then a stranger arrives in town. A divorcee from Sydney. And she opens Missy’s eyes to the possibility of a happy ending.