Pasquale Paoli: forgotten Corsican revolutionary

Ocelot Press author Vanessa Couchman writes about the achievements of Pasquale Paoli, 18th-century statesman and revolutionary and a towering figure of his era. Today, he is little known outside Corsica and deserves wider recognition.

Vanessa Couchman

Corte - Pasquale Paoli
Statue of Paoli in Corte, his heartland

This post is taking part in the Historical Writers Forum autumn blog hop, in which we each choose a historical figure and explain why we are drawn to him or her. I’ve chosen Pasquale Paoli, who led the Corsican republic from 1755 to 1769.

Paoli probably never considered himself a revolutionary. To him, the struggle to liberate the island of Corsica from its Genoese masters was a nation state’s legitimate bid for independence, and he regarded himself on a par with other heads of state. Today, he is much less well known outside Corsica than his compatriot Napoleon Bonaparte, and yet he was a towering figure of his era.


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Ocelot authors write about their favourite historical figures

Who’s your favourite historical figure? There are plenty to choose from! Some are eternally famous, while others might have been prominent in their own time but have slid from recognition today.

Starting today, the Historical Writers Forum is organising a blog hop over a fortnight, in which seven historical fiction writers choose their favourite character from history and tell us why they find the person so fascinating.

Four Ocelot Press authors are involved:

Jennifer C. Wilson will write about Mary Queen of Scots, whom she has admitted to stalking before moving on to Richard III. Mary was imprisoned by Elizabeth I after she was forced to abdicate in favour of her infant son James. Mary was held in captivity for more than 18 years and then executed, having been found guilty of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth.

Nancy Jardine shines the spotlight on General Gnaeus Iulius Agricola, a Roman general who was responsible for much of the conquest of Britain, but who seems to have fallen out of favour later in his career. Nancy’s atmospheric Celtic Fervour series focuses on the struggles between the Northern tribes and the Roman conquerors.

Sue Barnard’s choice is William Shakespeare – a name that people can’t fail to be familiar with! The Bard of Avon’s plays Romeo & Juliet and Julius Caesar are the inspiration behind two of Sue’s Ocelot Press novels: The Ghostly Father and The Unkindest Cut of All.

Vanessa Couchman is on a mission to rehabilitate Pasquale Paoli, an 18th-century Corsican leader, who attempted to rid the island of Genoese rule. He headed the short-lived Corsican republic from 1755-1769, and combined the roles of statesman, lawgiver and general. He has a cameo role in Vanessa’s novel The Corsican Widow in her Tales of Corsica series.

Don’t miss our authors’ insights into their favourite historical characters.

Here’s the full programme of articles.

Augustine is Released Today

We’re excited to announce that Vanessa Couchman’s novella, Augustine, is released today on Amazon Kindle under the Ocelot Press imprint.

Augustine is a prequel to her Alouette trilogy, and it’s set against the rolling hills and perched villages of Southwest France in the late 19th-century. Vanessa lives in southern France, not far from where the action takes place, and there’s plenty of period detail woven into the story, drawn from her researches and knowledge of the area. The backdrop is a way of life that lasted for centuries but has now disappeared forever.

In the book, you’ll meet Augustine Bousquet and Joseph Vernhes, who appear again in Overture, Book 1 of the Alouette trilogy. Augustine can be read as a standalone or before Overture.

The Power of Letters

Letters that inspired a novel

What is it about old letters that come to light later that is so appealing to our imagination? In our age of instant communication via email and social media, letter-writing is a rare practice. Why write someone a letter when you can Skype them instead? But for people a century ago, no other means of staying in contact existed. A letter was a personal thing, even if it took some time for it to arrive or for a reply to come back.

Continue reading “The Power of Letters”

Going Back in Time: Creating a Sense of Place in Fiction

In our continuing series of weekly blog posts, Ocelot author Vanessa Couchman tells us about her research process.

For all historical novelists, research is a vital part of the writing process. Since I took a degree in history, I enjoy the research part enormously. The danger for me is getting so carried away with the research that it threatens to take over the writing!

Continue reading “Going Back in Time: Creating a Sense of Place in Fiction”