Colleen McCullough was born on June 1, 1937 in Wellington, New South Wales, Australia. She attended Holy Cross College and the University of Sydney. She wanted to pursue a career in medicine but had an allergy to soap and a shortage of money. She decided to study neuroscience and established the department of neurophysiology at the Royal North Shore Hospital in Sydney before working as a researcher and teacher at Yale Medical School for ten years. Her first novel, Tim, was published in 1974. Her other works include The Thorn Birds, An Indecent Obsession, A Creed for the Third Millennium, The Ladies of Missalonghi, Masters of Rome series, and Bittersweet.