Clare Boylan, who died in 2006, was an Irish journalist, author and cat-lover, who once took a two-chapter fragment of a novel by Charlotte Brontë and completed it under the title Emma Brown.

At the time of the 1978 prize, Boylan had yet to become a magazine editor (which she did with the glossy Image in 1981) or novelist (her first fiction was Holy Pictures, 1983). She would go on to write seven novels, all in some way dealing with the mother-daughter relationship. She also wrote short stories (the film Making Waves, which was nominated for an Oscar in 1988, was based on her story Some Ladies on a Tour) and authored The Literary Companion to Cats. Her reaction to being diagnosed with cancer was to take up kickboxing.