James Attlee

James Attlee – Editor

An experienced and empathic editor, teacher and author with 20 years publishing experience. Let me help you bring your book to market.


Being an author who also works in publishing is a bit like being a doctor when you have a disease: you know what everybody should be doing but you don't want to be that awkward author/patient that makes a fuss and spoils their day— at least that’s how I've felt on more than one occasion! However, the experience I've gained through 20 years in the industry while also pursuing a writing career has put me in a good position to diagnose both what you need in terms of support as an author and what your manuscript requires in order to find a publisher.

I specialise in non-fiction, particularly art, travel, history, music and memoir. As a developmental editor I get great satisfaction from seeing a project that was previously in difficulties reach the finish line. Having been edited myself, I know how important it is to gain a relationship of trust with the author I'm working with, built on the right combination of affirmation, insight and straight-talking when needed.

Books I have worked on include 'The Art Museum in Modern Times' by Charles Saumarez Smith ("lively, informative... a good read", The New Criterion)

'Voyaging Out: British Women Artists from Suffrage to the Sixties', by Carolyn Trant ("Diligent, detailed and full of surprises", The Observer)

'Taming the Four Horsemen' by Robin Hanbury Tenison ("This is a fabulous book: it's like pumping a mountain stream through your head", Tim Smit, co-founder of The Eden Project)

'Today South London, Tomorrow South London' by Andrew Grumbridge and Vince Raison ("The ultimate reprobate's guide to God's own side of the river— your liver may never be the same again... Wonderful". Jenny Eclair)

My own books include 'Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey' ("James had me purring from the word go... Unique and very special", Geoff Dyer in The Guardian); 'Nocturne: A Journey in Search of Moonlight' ("Charming, spellbinding, an inspiration", The New York Times); Station to Station (All human life is here, one ghost interweaving with another.’ Craig Brown, Mail on Sunday); Guernica: Painting the End of the World ("An impressive overview", The Sunday Times) and Under the Rainbow: Voices from Lockdown ("Full of warmth, wit and eloquence", Alexandra Harris)
Architecture Art Biographies & Memoirs History Photography Travel Writing & Publishing
English (UK) English (US)
  • New Media Writing Prize, 2017
  • PhD by Published Work, Oxford Brookes University

Work experience

Ruskin College, Oxford

May, 2022 — Present

Oxford Brookes University, UK

Jan, 2020 — Present

One-to-one supervision of MA students on creative writing programme, teaching, marking final submissions of creative writing projects


Jan, 2012 — Present

I provide either detailed publishing reports on books outlining the steps the author needs to take, or structural edits on the manuscript itself, depending on the project. Author liaison is a key part of this role.
Also work as a managing editor, liaising with all stakeholders, from printer to designer to authors, particularly on exhibition catalogues

University of Chicago Press

Jan, 2012 — Jan, 2017 (about 5 years)

My role included identifying authors with promising projects to bring to the Press; helping first-time authors think through and shape their proposals; editing the sample chapters that accompanied such proposals

Tate Publishing, London

Sep, 2001 — Dec, 2011 (about 10 years)

I was responsible for global sales and distribution of Tate titles; press and publicity; foreign rights sales; liaison with the publishing departments of museums around the world that took Tate touring exhibitions; representing Tate at book fairs in London, Frankfurt and the USA.


The Art Museum in Modern Times

Saumarez Smith, Charles


Attlee, James

The New Spanish Revolutions

Christopher Finnigan

Travelling from Madrid to The Valley of the Fallen, through Castile and León and across the fiercely contested region of Catalonia, Christopher Finnigan meets a remarkable cast of characters behind some of the biggest political events Spain has witnessed in de... read more
Taming the Four Horsemen

Robin Hanbury-Tenison

As featured on ITV News and Radio 4's Today programme'This book could not come at a more appropriate moment . . . Matchless man: hugely important book' Joanna Lumley'A great champion of environmental activism . . . His extensive travels have given him many ins... read more

James has 2 reviews





Jonathan F.

Jonathan F.

Apr, 2021

I cannot recommend James highly enough. He took my MS and made it publishable. All his edits were astute. He was able to deal with quite involved social analysis. And he completed the edit as quickly as I could have hoped.
James A.
Thank you Jonathan. It was a pleasure working with you and your project was inspiring. I wish it every success.
Stefan S.

Stefan S.

Mar, 2021

The project involved updating a travel novel for the English-language market, a work published in translation a number of years ago. James engaged thoughtfully with the text and provided a number of valuable insights, especially in framing the story for a contemporary readership . He also provided additional, and helpful, line-editing. I would recommend particularly for non-fiction, e.g. h...
Read more

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