Colleen McCullough was born in Wellington, an outback town in Australia. Her family life was somewhat rough, her mother being rather aggressive toward her and burning any manuscripts of Colleen's she found. In adulthood, McCullough attempted to become a surgeon, but developed an allergic reaction to the surgical soap and switched to neuroscience. After several years working abroad, she received a position at the famed Yale University. It was during this time that she wrote Tim and her most famous novel, The Thorn Birds. Her success forced her to retire from teaching, and she eventually settled on the isolated Norfolk Island, where she lives with husband Ric Robinson, a descendant of the Bounty mutineers.
In recent years, McCullough has completed numerous novels, including the controversial The Independence of Mis Mary Bennet, her Masters of Rome series, and several stand along works. She is a National Living Treasure of Australia and still uses a typewriter to complete her novels.