Australian author Colleen McCullough dies

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Internationally acclaimed Australian author Colleen McCullough has died, aged 77.

Internationally acclaimed Australian author Colleen McCullough has died, aged 77. The best-selling author died in hospital on Norfolk Island on Thursday afternoon, publisher HarperCollins Australia confirmed.

She is best known for her novel The Thorn Birds, which sold 30 million copies worldwide, making her one of the first Australian authors to succeed on the world stage, the publisher said in a statement.

HarperCollins publishing director Shona Martyn said McCullough showed determination in overcoming a string of health and eyesight problems to continue writing through dictation.

"Ever quick-witted and direct, we looked forward to her visits from Norfolk Island and the arrival of each new manuscript delivered in hard copy in custom-made maroon manuscript boxes inscribed with her name," Ms Martyn said.

"The world is a less colourful place without Col."

Ms McCullough wrote 25 novels throughout her career. Her last book Bittersweet was published in 2013.

Before becoming a best selling author Ms McCullough established neurophysiology department at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney.

She also spent 10 years as a researcher at Yale Medical School in the US. She is survived by her husband Ric Robinson.

Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten said Ms McCullough's impulse purchase of a typewriter immeasurably enriched the literary landscape of Australia and the world.

"Young people who were captivated by The Thorn Birds are parents and grandparents now - watching new generations fall in love with Colleen's evocative word pictures and the clarity of her prose," he said in a statement.

"Colleen has written her final word but she lives on in bookshelves and libraries around the world - and in the hearts of all who loved her."

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Ms McCullough had enthralled readers for decades.

"Colleen McCullough was a unique Australian personality and Norfolk Island's most famous resident," he said in a statement.

"Her book Roden Cutler VC will always be required reading for those who want to know the story of one of Australia's great heroes and NSW's longest serving governor. "She will be missed."

Source AAP

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