Jean Hood's Website

Welcome to my website

A little bit about me....



I'm primarily a maritime and naval author,  though my books have included an illustrated history of Trafalgar Square, a companion to the Imperial War Museum's War Correspondent exhibition, and the TV-tie in for Dan Snow's three-part Dig WW2, which took me into land conflict and air warfare (though I had covered a century of naval aviation while writing Carrier) as well as naval aspects.   I've set up the website in order to provide information about my current and forthcoming books, post corrections and extra information, and to build up a list of resources and material you may find useful.  My most recent commission was to co-edit Shipwright 2013, which came out in June (2013).

Due to another other big commitment at the moment, I'm currently not working on a book , but soon I will start on the one I have wanted to write for a long time, ever since I touched on the story in another book. It could be a long time before it is done,  and then I'll worry about finding a publisher.

However, I am sporadically assisting an Italian documentary producer who is developing what looks to be a really exciting project.   I may not have any Italian blood in my veins, but I have plenty of Italian wine in them, and I have long been attracted to all things Italian, including aspects of its naval history. I very much hope it comes to fruition, but I know that the idea has to be 'sold' to the people who put content in front of the viewer, especially foreign networks, in order to make any project financially viable.

You may be surprised to find a big article about antique mercury barometers and the Ortelli family  who made them, in Britain,  in the very late 18th and the first half of the 19th century. Well, we all have our guilty pleasures, and this is one of mine. There is something very special about these beautiful, unique  and useful creations that were handcrafted and signed by Italians who, more than two centuries ago, began crossing the Alps and travelling some 750 miles across Europe to bring their skills to Britain.   It's  work in constant progress. It is also a chance to write in a friendly style, with little digressions here and there, speculation, admissions of ignorance, not to mention well-intentioned promises to find out missing information at some unspecified time in the vague future. Freed from commercial considerations and the  straightjacket of a  brief, and from the twin pressures of  time schedule  and word count, I can indulge myself and, I hope, revive interest in, and acquisition of, mercury barometers. I have also tried to show more than the fruits of research. I wanted to explain something of the process of research, the false starts, the blanks, the way connections were made, the sources used and the thought processes involved, because the research is, for me at least, the best part of it, the part that leaves a writer alternately frustrated or euphoric.


Some interesting news about the Ortelli barometer makers has led to an edit of the pages on Antonio, Defendente and Giovanni Battista Ortelli. And there is probably going to be an even bigger one, soon, as some even more interesting material comes out of Italy.

19th February. I bought this double-sided pendant at auction at the start of this month, because I felt sorry for it - but who is this First World War soldier? His uniform has been confirmed as that of the Royal Artillery, most probably the Royal Field Artillery, and although the photo has been cut from a larger photograph, the letters that were on the reverse of the photo were enough to work out (with the help of  the Ancestry search engine!) that the picture was taken by a professional photographer with premises in Hebden Bridge and Todmorden - West Yorkshire, near Halifax. The Hebden Bridge newspaper is taking an interest, so maybe the soldier will be identified. On the reverse of the pendant is a photo of the same man as a child. I have a sad feeling that this is something that, perhaps, a bereaved mother might have had made... I am compiling a list of those from Todmorden and Hebden Bridge who were killed in action, but this chap may have come from somewhere near either place, and there is no proof he was killed. The auctioneer remembers only that the item was part of a job lot of bits of scrap gold etc that he bought a while ago - he felt, however, that the pendant was too evocative to break up.
If you have any ideas, please get in touch: use the email  
jeanhoodwebsite[AT] (substituting @ for [AT])


I did have a form, but the spammers got hold of it, so please use the following email, substituting @ for [AT]

Ships you have to visit
the Quest for the Ortellis and their Barometers

google-site-verification: google13e98faae6513666.html