Kate Figes dies from cancer, aged 62

Kate Figes dies from cancer, aged 62

Author and You Magazine books editor Kate Figes has died from cancer at the age of 62.

Figes wrote two novels and six works of non-fiction, including 2018’s On Smaller Dogs and Larger Life Questions (Virago) which dealt with subjects including the diagnosis that her breast cancer had metastasised.

She began in publishing with a stint as sales rep, then publicist and editor at Pandora Books. After her first child was born, she turned to journalism and writing full time. Life After Birth (Penguin, reissued by Virago), a Sunday Times Top Ten bestseller, was followed by Terrible Teens (Penguin).

Felicity Rubinstein, who published her first book Because of Her Sex at Macmillan, became her agent and was with her for the next 30 years.

Figes moved to Lennie Goodings at Virago to write 2009 book The Big Fat Bitch Book for Girls followed by Couples and Our Cheating Hearts: Love & Loyalty, Lust & Lies.  She also published two novels with Imogen Taylor at Macmillan, What About Me and a sequel, What About Me, Too?, and was the books editor at You Magazine for 25 years.  

Goodings said: “Kate Figes was brilliant on moving from the personal to the general, from the specific to the more universal in a way that illuminates and really helps us to understand life.  What makes her books all the more authentic and meaningful is that she celebrated the ordinary.  She understood that it is the quotidian parts of our lives—love, birth, raising children, making a home, friends, sustaining long-term relationships, dealing with the loss of parents—that both break and make our spirits. 

“She finished her deck of books with a beautiful little volume, On Smaller Dogs and Larger Life Questions which she began with a plan to chart the changes of middle-age and instead it became a book about facing death: an inevitability for us all she reminds us, but her book is grounded—as she was—in the important everydayness: a new puppy, Scrabble games, walking, family meals.

“Famed for her huge enthusiasm for books and life and blessed with an enormous, infectious laugh, she will be much missed.”

In her final piece of journalism, published on 24th November, Figes wrote about finding a “surprising silver lining to this terrible year”. She said: “I don’t believe that any of us can ever accept the inevitability of our own death. Life is too bloody wonderful.”

Claire Armitstead paid tribute to Figes in an obituary in the Guardian.