Siobhan Dowd was born on February 4, 1960. She received a degree in Classics at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University and an MA with Distinction in Gender and Ethnic Studies at Greenwich University. After a short stint in publishing, she joined the writer's organization PEN. Initially she was a researcher for its Writers in Prison Committee, but eventually she became Program Director of PEN American Center's Freedom-to-Write Committee in New York City. After seven years, she returned to the United Kingdom and co-founded an English PEN's readers and writers program, which takes authors into schools in socially deprived areas, as well as prisons, young offender's institutions and community projects. She has written novels, short stories, columns and articles, and edited two anthologies. Her first novel, A Swift Pure Cry, was published in March 2006 and won the Eilis Dillon award in Ireland for a first-time children's author and the Branford Boase Award. Her other novels are The London Eye Mystery, which won NASEN/TES Special Educational Needs Children's Book Award, Bisto Book of the Year prize, and Salford Children's Book Award; Bog Child; and Solace of the Road. She died of breast cancer on August 21, 2007 at the age of 47. Before her death, she set up the Siobhan Dowd Trust, where all the proceeds from her literary work will be used to assist disadvantaged children with their reading skills.