Australian author Colleen McCullough in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge on Aug. 31, 2000 in Sydney, Australia
Peter Carrette Archive—Getty Images
By Sabrina Toppa
January 30, 2015

Acclaimed Thorn Birds author Colleen McCullough, who died Wednesday at the age of 77, received a detailed obituary Thursday in the Australian newspaper, which chose to honor her passing by describing her as “plain of feature” and “certainly overweight.”

Despite penning the highest-selling novel in Australia’s history, McCullough’s obituary opened with disparaging remarks on her appearance. This prompted fans to vent fury via Twitter at the sexist characterization of the author’s life and grave oversight of her career accomplishments, including teaching at Yale Medical School and writing a novel selling over 30 million copies around the world.

Jesus Christ. @australian delivers worst obit lede in recent memory for author/neurophysiologist Colleen McCullough.

— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) January 30, 2015

It may be possible for this obituary in The Australian to have a more offensive opening & tone. I can’t imagine how.

— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) January 30, 2015

@stevesilberman @australian That is truly unforgivable. No doubt they would never describe a man that way. Jeez.

— Tricia Reusing (@loonlibrarian) January 30, 2015

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