Editing: bringing ideas into focus

I’ve been editing professionally for many years, and have a well-honed instinct for how to improve different kinds of writing. As a copy-editor I’ve worked on texts as diverse as catalogue essays on the work of contemporary artists by high-profile authors (including Will Self, Nicholas Serota and Simon Schama) and the content of an illustrated children’s book on the life of a saint by a first-time writer.

More recently, I’ve begun to work as a Reader and development editor on both fiction and non-fiction texts, and really enjoy the intricate business of helping other writers navigate towards creative satisfaction. In assessing a manuscript, I work hard to offer friendly yet challenging suggestions for how to get past a text’s structural roadblocks and page-level tangles.

Recent projects

Giles Foden, Norwich

I recently worked as a development editor with Giles Foden, the author of a number of works of non-fiction and a series of novels. These include The Last King of Scotland (1998), a book about Ugandan dictator Idi Amin that won Giles the Whitbread First Novel Award, and that was later made into an acclaimed film of the same name.

Ally is one of the best editors I’ve worked with. Both in terms of development work and line editing, she’s superb.

Giles Foden, author

Other Criteria, London

Since 2006 I’ve worked as a freelance editor on art books produced by Damien Hirst’s publishing company, Other Criteria. Most recently, I edited texts for the catalogue of Hirst’s own provocatively extravagant show in Venice, ‘Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable’ (2017), a book that featured essays by historian Simon Schama and curator Henri Loyrette, former director of the Louvre in Paris. 

Ally is an excellent and efficient editor, capable of forensic yet sensitive shaping of text. She is also a brilliantly astute reader – her broad-sweep reports on approach, content and tone have been as invaluable as her detailed edits. I would recommend her for any publication project without hesitation.

Amie Corry, Editor, Other Criteria

White Cube, London

I’ve been working as a freelance editor for White Cube (London’s leading commercial gallery for over two decades) since 2002, working on catalogue texts by writers, curators and academics including Will Self, Michael Bracewell and Rudi Fuchs, former director of Amsterdam’s Stedelijk Museum. Most recently, I edited a piece by novelist Ben Okri on the work of David Hammons, and an essay on the work of Gabriel Orozco by Briony Fer, Professor of Art at University College London.

Ally is the sole freelance editor called on by White Cube in the gallery’s work on publications, on jobs that range from copy editing to more complex rewrites. Although she’s a sensitive editor, she’s also not afraid to argue for changes, as well as having the creativity to be able to find ways to better and more imaginatively present a set of ideas. I have often received high praise for the gallery’s editing and must in no small part attribute this to her.

Honey Luard, Director of Publications at White Cube

The National Pugin Centre, Ramsgate

The National Pugin Centre (a visitor centre attached to the church in Ramsgate built by Victorian designer/architect A.W. Pugin) had put together material for an illustrated children’s book on the life of St Augustine, the man who brought Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England in 597AD. The work of a first-time author, the book needed sympathetic yet decisive editorial treatment to make it more appealing to a young contemporary audience.

Frieze, London

For two years (until all editorial work was taken in-house in spring 2017), I was the sole freelance editor used by Frieze, the UK’s leading magazine on contemporary art and visual culture. This involved editing a wide range of features and reviews, many written by leading curators and art writers.

With a keen eye for detail and a great sensibility for the English language, Ally is an exceptional editor, and has the intelligence and sensitivity to confidently handle a range of complex subject matter. Working with Ally is always a pleasure, since she is both incredibly personable and extremely reliable – a true professional!

Rosalind Furness, former Managing Editor at Frieze

Previous projects


– Artist and illustrator Paul Davis’s Line in the Sand, the catalogue for a show of his work at Ginza Graphic Gallery, Tokyo

– Jake Chapman’s introduction to the catalogue of the Chapman Brothers’ notorious exhibition ‘Insult to Injury’, for SteidlMACK

– A survey of contemporary Colombian photography for the Photographers’ Gallery, London

– Conversations between designer Ron Arad and art critic Matthew Collings for Phaidon

– A book published to accompany the South Bank Centre’s retrospective on Tracey Emin 

– Books on art, architecture and critical theory for arts publisher August Media

– A series of books on cultural theory for the Institute of International Visual Arts, London


Until 2008 much of my work was as a freelance sub-editor on some of the UK’s leading consumer magazines; the titles I regularly worked on were Condé Nast Traveller, Harper’s Bazaar (formerly Harper’s & Queen), Red, GQ and RA, the magazine for members of the Royal Academy of Arts.