Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Birthday: Colleen McCullough made exactly the life she wanted.

Colleen Margaretta McCullough (1937-2015)
Neuroscientist, Author
Recipient, Order of Australia, 2006


Trained in medicine, McCullough was a researcher and teacher in London and at Yale Medical School. As The Writer’s Almanac puts it, she was a practical sort:

“She spent 10 happy years there; she was good at her job, and it gave her time to pursue her hobbies. But when she discovered that her male colleagues were making twice as much money as their female counterparts, she decided that she needed a backup plan. She said, “I loved being a neurophysiologist, but I didn’t want to be a 70-year-old spinster in a cold-water, walk-up flat with one 60-watt light bulb, which is what I could see as my future.”
“Although she had never tried to publish anything, she decided to try her hand at professional writing. She began writing in the evenings after work, and she based her first novel on a situation she had encountered at Yale, working with a middle-aged woman and her husband, who was a much younger man with developmental disabilities. Her novel Tim (1974) was a modest success.
“A few years earlier, one of her colleagues at Yale, the classics professor Erich Segal, had published the wildly popular novel Love Story (1970). Before writing her second novel, McCullough interviewed Yale students about what they loved about Love Story. She distilled those elements, used an Australian setting, and wrote a long romantic novel about an illicit love affair between a beautiful young woman and a Catholic priest, following three generations on a sheep farm in the Australian outback. That novel, The Thorn Birds (1977), became an international sensation, selling more than 30 million copies. The American paperback rights sold for a record $1.9 million. She quit her job and moved back to Australia, to Norfolk Island, where she lived for the rest of her life. She wrote more than 20 books, including An Indecent Obsession (1981), Morgan’s Run (2000), and Bittersweet (2013). She died earlier this year.”
Henry Bemis Book is pleased to offer this excellent, autographed first edition of one of McCullough’s seven Roman novels to mark her birthday:


McCullough, Colleen, Caesar’s Women (William Morrow, 1st ed. 1st printing, 1996). ISBN 0-688-09731-X.  Absorbing tale of the ten years of Julius Caesar’s rise to power in Republican Rome. One of a series of novels by the author of The Thorn Birds on the first emperor’s life and times. Extravagantly autographed on the title page. Hardcover, unclipped dust jacket, very good condition.  696 pp. HBB price: $50 obo.


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