Tributes paid to 'dynamo' Alison Wood after death, aged 62

Tributes paid to 'dynamo' Alison Wood after death, aged 62

Tributes have been paid to Gallic Books’ finance director Alison Wood (pictured, right), who has died aged 62. 

Wood died on 16th April 2021 of cancer, her former colleagues announced this week. She spent almost three decades working in publishing, across Random House and Gallic Books. 

Jane Aitken, m.d. of Gallic Books, said: “When we decided to set up Gallic Books the first person we approached was Alison. Luckily for us she said yes. She was a dynamo, combining her extensive business knowledge with a practical can-do attitude. But she was also enormous fun with a ready dry wit, and an extremely supportive and kind friend. We will miss her.” 

Anthony McConnell, former Random House group finance director, said: “Alison was newly appointed as a business manager when I joined Cape, Chatto and Bodley Head as finance director in 1988. The company had recently been taken over by Random House and was in the throes of a great deal of rather chaotic reorganisation. Alison was a rock in this turbulent sea. With her calm good sense, her humour and her professional expertise, she was of crucial support to me and to all her colleagues.” 

Ian Hudson, now m.d. of Bloomsbury Consumer Publishing, also worked with her at Random House. He said: “Alison was a key member of the team which transformed Random House under Gail Rebuck (pictured with Wood) in the mid 1990s. She was a pioneer in establishing the role of ‘business manager’ within publishing and became a trusted financial and commercial advisor to her publishing colleagues. Alison was highly respected across the whole company and leaves behind many friends from her Random House days.” 

Wood was born on 20th September 1958. After initially working for the Heinz Group, she started her publishing career in 1987, in the finance department of the CVBC Group which incorporated Chatto & Windus, Virago, Bodley Head, and Cape, before the company was acquired by Random House. She was assigned to Chatto, then run by Carmen Callil. "Wood thrived in the creative atmosphere," Gallic Books said.

After the merger of CVBC and Random Century, Wood extended her responsibilities ultimately rising to become deputy group finance director of Random House. 

In 1997, after 12 years with the company she left to join her husband in the US, where she went on to study Liberal Arts at Manhattanville College and to bring up her two daughters. 

The family returned to the UK in 2006, and Wood returned to the trade, joining her former Random House colleagues Jane Aitken and Pilar Webb in their new start-up, Gallic Books, which specialised in books translated from French. As finance director Wood oversaw the commercial set-up and running of the company, which soon expanded and went on to have success with titles such as The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbary, François Lelord’s Hector and the Search for Happiness and Antoine Laurain’s The Red Notebook