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Horrors! Aussie obit of ‘Thorn Birds’ author actually mentioned what she looked like

February 2, 2015

The obituary:

Colleen McCullough at home on Australia's remote Norfolk Island in 1990 — she told an interviewer she moved there to escape her difficult family.
A no-no: Calling her a “charmer” who joked about her looks
COLLEEN McCullough, Australia’s best selling author, was a charmer. 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.”

In Australia one of the highest accolades given to a person of consequence is that she or he (dead or alive) is (or was) a very “private person”. In most cases this claim is manifestly untrue.

McCullough was no exception. “I’m media shy,” she told a reporter ingenuously after giving a thousand and one interviews to the press and appearing endlessly on television and radio. Colleen was the supreme egotist and talked about herself with unusual candour.Not that she was ever a bore. Far from it.

She told a good story — usually peppered with profanities — about the most intimate details of her life: and her revelations more than matched her skill in creating popular fiction.

Her novels consistently received patronising reviews from the highbrow critics, but she took it all in good humour, sometimes answering back with wit and style.

Moral panic from the U.K Guardian:

If you’re a woman who has been made to feel a little slovenly and neglectful this week by the realisation that you haven’t had your uterus steam-cleaned, you might have been prompted to wonder whether you will ever reach a stage of life when you can stop being told your body is disgusting and finally find yourself acknowledged for other qualities, such as your character and achievements. When you’re dead, maybe?

I’m afraid not. Last week, we learned that, even when you’re no longer here to care, you will still be judged for what you looked like and whether anyone fancied you; at least, according to the obituary published in the Australian for the bestselling author and neuroscientist Colleen McCullough, who died aged 77.


Moral panic from ThinkProgress:

This is the sort of idiocy you’d think someone at the paper might catch. An editor, perhaps. Someone on the copy desk. Literally any human who saw it. But nope, here it is, and we can’t even blame the punishing publish-first-think-later evils of the internet, for as you can see from the highlighted image above, this appeared in a Traditional Legacy Print Newspaper Made From Only The Finest Trees.

This reminds me of the furor among the bien-pensants when rocket scientist Yvonne Brill died in 2013 and the lead in her New York Times obituary mentioned that she was a great cook. Oh, and that her kids adored her.

You can’t say those kinds of things about a woman anymore.

Posted by Charlotte Allen


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