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Audio Colleen McCullough outlines what makes a good writer, 2008

TLF ID R9793

This is an edited sound recording of the best-selling Australian author Colleen McCullough outlining what she believes makes a good writer. She shares her belief that some children with potential as writers do not have parents or teachers who are supportive, while others with little talent are 'over encouraged'. Stating that the only way to practise writing is to read, McCullough says that she 'was an inveterate reader' of a wide range of material as a child. The recording was made in July 2008.

Educational details

Educational value
  • This recording provides advice from a successful Australian author on the art of being a writer. McCullough (1937-) acknowledges that some would-be writers are disadvantaged by circumstance as children. Nevertheless, she makes it clear that she believes it is up to individuals to overcome any disadvantages and to nurture their own talent through reading.
  • Research into children's literacy development has confirmed McCullough's personal assertion that children who read widely across a range of text types are more likely to develop into writers fluent in a range of genres. She cites herself as an example of a writer able to produce an eclectic range of work because of an eclectic taste as a reader. She suggests that a reader with 'narrow' taste would be unable to produce such a range.
  • McCullough's work is indeed wide ranging. Her best-selling book was an outback romance, 'The thorn birds' (1977). She has also won critical acclaim for her 'Masters of Rome' series, which although fictional incorporates much accurate detail about actual historical figures and the way of life of ancient Romans. Her other works include 'The courage and the will' (1999), a biography of the former New South Wales governor Sir Roden Cutler (1916-2002).
  • McCullough trained as a neuroscientist and worked in hospitals in Australia and Britain before moving to the USA, where she spent ten years as a researcher and teacher in the neurology department at Yale University in Connecticut. While there, she wrote her first two novels - 'Tim' (1974) and 'The thorn birds'. She later lived mainly on Norfolk Island, writing more novels, including the 'Masters of Rome' series.

Other details

  • Publisher
  • Date of contribution: 20 Sep 2013
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL:
  • Copyright holder
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL:
  • Remarks: Copyright Education Services Australia Ltd
  • Content provider
  • Organisation: Education Services Australia
  • Address: Melbourne VIC 3000 Australia
  • URL:
  • Author
  • Date of contribution: 2008
  • Name: Colleen McCullough
  • Remarks: speaker
Access profile
  • Colour independence
  • Device independence
Learning resource type
  • Sound
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer - minimum version: 8.0 (MS-Windows) - maximum version: 9.0 (MS-Windows)
  • Firefox - minimum version: (MS-Windows)
  • Safari - minimum version: 5.1 (MacOS)
Operating systems
  • MacOS - minimum version: 10.6
  • MS-Windows - minimum version: XP - maximum version: 7
  • © Education Services Australia Ltd, 2013, except where indicated under Acknowledgements.