Vigor Mortis: The End of the Death Taboo, Profile Books (London, England), 2001.
Madame Tussaud: A Life in Wax, W. Morrow (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including Vogue, Spectator, Sunday Times, and Town & Country.
In her first book, Vigor Mortis: The End of the Death Taboo, Kate Berridge examines the growing fascination with death and images of death as proffered by a worldwide media, including television and the Internet. According to Berridge, death has, in a manner, replaced sex as the primary type of voyeurism. Berridge believes that this voyeurism brings about a grief that provides the viewers with an emotional type of "fix," which the author describes as "the new pornography of death." In her examinations, the author looks at the twentieth century and how views about death and mourning have changed. She also reflects on notable deaths, such as that of Princess Diana in 1997, and examines the public's overwrought reactions to these incidents and the media's saturation coverage of them. In the final analysis, the author sees nothing wrong in honoring and remembering the dead but proposes that it has reached a level of unhealthy morbidity.
In a review of Vigor Mortis in the New Statesman, Mick Hume noted that the book "is full of fascinating and unexpectedly lively stuff." Other reviewers also had high praise for the book. Lucinda Lambton, writing in the Spectator, called it "a triumph, an exhilaratingly original, scholarly and strange—as well as extraordinarily enjoyable—orchestration of the last trump." Lambton added: "Relish every word that Kate Berridge has written and you will be set fair for life—and death."
In Madame Tussaud: A Life in Wax, which Milwaukee Journal Sentinel contributor Tim Cuprisin called "a good story," the author provides a biography of the woman who created the famous museum featuring wax figures of prominent personages. "It is an astonishing tale and Kate Berridge tells it with empathy, in elegant prose," wrote Ross Leckie on the Times Online. In her book, the author delves into the remarkable life of a woman artist and entrepreneur in the nineteenth century, who took advantage of the lack of mass media to provide the common person with the opportunity to see what the famous people of the day looked like. The author also examines the times of Madame Tussaud, including the city of Paris and the subservient role of women. Jim Doyle, writing in the Library Journal, noted that the author "does an exemplary job of … placing Tussaud within the context of European popular culture." In a review on the New York Sun Web site, Carl Rollyson wrote: "This biography has presented the complete story by paradoxically discounting a good deal of what Madame Tussaud told in her memoirs, while at the same time providing a grand-scale perspective on Tussaud's important role in shaping how we view the human personality."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Berridge, Kate, Vigor Mortis: The End of the Death Taboo, Profile Books (London, England), 2001.
California Bookwatch, November, 2006, review of Madame Tussaud: A Life in Wax.
Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT), August 27, 2006, Dennis Lythgoe, review of Madame Tussaud.
Library Journal, August 1, 2006, Jim Doyle, review of Madame Tussaud, p. 98.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 27, 2006, Tim Cuprisin, review of Madame Tussaud.
New Statesman, October 1, 2001, Mick Hume, "The Fear of Life," review of Vigor Mortis, p. 74.
Spectator, January 12, 2002, Lucinda Lambton, review of Vigor Mortis.
Express: A Publication of the Washington Post,http://www.readexpress.com/ (July 25, 2007), Glenn Dixon, "Tonight's Top Stop: Madame Tussaud," interview with author.
HarperCollins Web site,http://www.harpercollins.com/ (July 26, 2007), brief profile of author.
Harriet Klausner's Book Reviews,http://harrietklausner.wwwi.com/ (July 26, 2007), Harriet Klausner, review of Madame Tussaud.
New York Sun,http://www.nysun.com/ (July 26, 2006), Carl Rollyson, review of Madame Tussaud.
Times Onlinehttp://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/ (June 9, 2007), Ross Leckie, review of MadameTussaud.