Colleen McCullough, author of The Thorn Birds died at the age of seventy seven on the 29th January. The Australian wrote this as part of their obituary:
“Australia’s bestselling author was a charmer. Plain of feature, and certainly overweight, she was nevertheless a woman of wit and warmth.”
Use whatever words you like, but you clearly just called her not pretty and fat with a nice personality in her OBITUARY. That’s where you say nice things people. She’d be charmed I’m sure. I loved The Thornbirds, both the book and the series – the drama, the forbidden love, the serious crush on Richard Chamberlain who played the priest, and the devastation when he came out and I realised we could never be….. Ahem. Colleen McCullough was a stellar author, incredibly intelligent, and nice too. Twitter is currently abuzz with hilarious rude fake obits on the hashtag #myozobituary from all sorts of people including writers like Neil Gaiman. While this is funny, I’m not sure about how appropriate it is for humour to overtake the actual loss of a great writer. No more books from Colleen McCullough. No more magic will flow from those fingers.
It’s nobody’s business if you’re fat or thin, gorgeous or have the face of a vampire bat sucking a lemon. What you look like shouldn’t define you. What defines you is who you are, what you do, and again, who you ARE. Obviously your looks are important if you’re a model, but even so, those looks aren’t who you are – some very pretty shells cover some very ugly inners. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder anyway.
As a writer I’m hugely offended at what was said in that obituary. We write for you – what we look like has no effect on what or how we write, and most definitely not appropriate to mention in any sort of insulting way. Even if when I die my obituary begins with something like “She was gorgeous till the end, which was only to be expected….” I’d still be hugely offended – even though it’s so obviously true. Writing is an art and our craft. It’s a special craft – it consumes us, and takes over our lives. Give proper credit where it’s due, and not facile allusions to irrelevant perceived faults. Shame on the writer of that sad and shameful sentence – the shame is his, and not on anybody’s body shape. RIP Colleen McCullough – a truly great author and human being. Photo copyright Louise Donald courtesy Simon & Schuster