Catherine Jane Figes was born in London on Nov. 6, 1957, to John and Eva (Unger) Figes. Her father, whom Ms. Figes characterized as “absent” and “unreliable,” ran an employment agency. Her parents’ marriage ended in a bitter divorce when Kate was 5.
Eva Figes, who was Jewish, had fled Nazi Germany as a child with her parents in 1939. She became an acclaimed novelist, though it was for her nonfiction polemic, “Patriarchal Attitudes: Women in Society,” that she is best known. The book, published in 1970, joined Germaine Greer’s “Female Eunuch” and Kate Millett’s “Sexual Politics” as among the most important feminist treatises of that time.
Ms. Figes’s relationship with her mother was complex and difficult, Ms. Figes wrote. Though she was close to her younger brother, Orlando Figes, who became a historian and an author, theirs was a “chaotic and insecure” childhood, she wrote. She left home for good at 17 after having what she described as “a blazing row with my mother.”
Ms. Figes was vague about what she did immediately after leaving home, but she went on to study Arabic and Russian at the Polytechnic of Central London, now known as the University of Westminster, graduating in 1981. In 1988 she married Christopher Wyld, a BBC News foreign editor who became director of the Foreign Press Association in London.
Her husband and brother survive her, as do two daughters, Eleanor and Grace Wyld. Ms. Figes and her husband had lived in the same house in North London since they were married.
In the years before she developed breast cancer, which ultimately spread to her bones, Ms. Figes trained as a relationship counselor, a role that flowed naturally from her writing, Ms. Rubinstein said. In her books on female issues, she said, Ms. Figes “would explain to readers what was happening, would put it into words; she would be funny about it, consoling; she would normalize it.”
Ms. Figes’s final book, “On Smaller Dogs and Larger Life Questions,” published in 2018, charts the changes in life that middle age brings (including her bonding with a miniature wire-haired dachshund named Zeus). With her cancer diagnosis — breast cancer that had gone undetected in routine mammograms — it also became a book about facing up to mortality.