Kate Cruise O'Brien was an award winning Irish writer and publisher, winning the Hennessey Award in 1971, at the tender age of 22, for her first short story. She also won an award in 1979 for her first book. From writing she moved into a publishing career and is credited with the discovery of writer Marian Keyes, who on hearing of Cruise O'Brien's death described her as "irreplaceable".
Kate Cruise O'Brien also had quite a lineage to live up to. She was the daughter of Christine Foster and Conor Cruise O'Brien, writer, intellectual, and politician, and granddaughter of Francis "Frank" Cruise O'Brien, a journalist for the Freemans Journal and the Irish Independent, and Kathleen Sheehy, a feminist and teacher of the Irish language. Her relatives include Hannah Sheehy Skeffington, wife of Francis Sheehy Skeffington, and Mary Sheehy Kettle, wife of Thomas Kettle, all important figures in the history of Ireland.