Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Australian Paper Mocked for Obit of 'The Thorn Birds' Author; Australian Paper Gives Colleen McCullough Dubious Praise: Appearance over Achievements

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Australian Paper Mocked for Obit of 'The Thorn Birds' Author; Australian Paper Gives Colleen McCullough Dubious Praise: Appearance over Achievements

Article excerpt

SYDNEY *Australia's main national newspaper was facing sharp criticism over its obituary of the nation's most famous author, whom it described as plain and overweight.

The Australian newspaper's obituary of Colleen McCullough, whose novel "The Thorn Birds" sold 30 million copies worldwide and who died on Thursday at age 77 after a long illness, opened not with a list of her myriad accomplishments, but with a description of her appearance.

"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."

Soon, the hashtag myozobituary was trending on Twitter, as people across the world mocked the publication for what many viewed as a blatantly sexist treatment of a lauded literary figure.

British author Neil Gaiman, who is married to singer Amanda Palmer, tweeted: "Although his beard looked like someone had glued it on & his hair would have been unconvincing as a wig, he married a rockstar. (hashtag)myozobituary"

Criticism of the obituary was twofold: One, that the paper chose to focus the top of its story on McCullough's appearance rather than her achievements, which included spending 10 years working as a neuroscientist at Yale Medical School in the United States, establishing the neurophysiology department at Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital, and writing 25 novels. …

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