The Robin Hood Pages

Sources · Under the Greenwood Tree
[Picture - Pyle: Robin Hood Meeteth the tall Stranger at the Bridge] The Robin Hood of modern folk-mythology is a creature built up, generation by generation, to meet the needs and desires of his audience. The earliest Robin Hood was a yeoman, not a wronged nobleman, who haunted Barnsdale Forest, not Sherwood; he didn't become a Saxon or mere Englishman fighting the Norman oppressor until Sir Walter Scott dressed him up for his walk-on in Ivanhoe. The original outlaw behind Batman and Zorro and The Scarlet Pimpernel was a ragged ruffian who might have worn Lincoln Green, whose shadow stretching across the centuries tells us much about our changing understanding of order and honor and justice.

Original Texts

The Robin Hood Project at The University of Rochester is designed to make available in electronic format a database of texts, images, bibliographies, and basic information about the Robin Hood stories and other outlaw tales. The project is sponsored by the University of Rochester and prepared in The Robbins Library, a branch of Rush Rhees Library. The site includes online versions of original texts (including the relevant Child ballads) as well as a bibliography, filmography, and a guide to general resources for the study of Robin Hood literature.

Other Sources

Tales of Robin Hood

Every generation looks at Robin through its own filters and remakes him in its own fashion. Here are some highlights, from The Robin Hood Project:
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle, the classic version of the stories of 1883, published by Project Gutenberg.
I tell you plainly that if you go farther you will be scandalized by seeing good, sober folks of real history so frisk and caper in gay colors and motley that you would not know them but for the names tagged to them. Here is a stout, lusty fellow with a quick temper, yet none so ill for all that, who goes by the name of Henry II. Here is a fair, gentle lady before whom all the others bow and call her Queen Eleanor. Here is a fat rogue of a fellow, dressed up in rich robes of a clerical kind, that all the good folk call my Lord Bishop of Hereford. Here is a certain fellow with a sour temper and a grim look-- the worshipful, the Sheriff of Nottingham. And here, above all, is a great, tall, merry fellow that roams the greenwood and joins in homely sports, and sits beside the Sheriff at merry feast, which same beareth the name of the proudest of the Plantagenets--Richard of the Lion's Heart. Beside these are a whole host of knights, priests, nobles, burghers, yeomen, pages, ladies, lasses, landlords, beggars, peddlers, and what not, all living the merriest of merry lives, and all bound by nothing but a few odd strands of certain old ballads (snipped and clipped and tied together again in a score of knots) which draw these jocund fellows here and there, singing as they go. ["From the Author to the Reader."]

Robin Hood by J. Walker McSpadden is more correctly Stories Of Robin Hood And His Merry Outlaws. It's a sentimental children's book of 1904, also from Project Gutenberg.
Robin Hood by Henry Gilbert [no publication date, c. 1912], as hypertext with the orginal illustrations, from Kellscraft Studio. New URL.
The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson - a tale of the Wars of the Roses, and not Robin Hood, though it features brave fellows attired "in tbe height of forest gallantry, all in Lincoln green, both hood and jerkin, with dainty peacock arrows in their belts, a horn upon a baldrick, and a sword and dagger at their sides." Also from Kellscraft Studio.

The One Essential Reference

Robin Hood by J.C. Holt (UK and US: Thames and Hudson, 1982) is a comprehensive survey of the Robin Hood of ballad, history, legend, and fiction. Holt places the evolution of Robin in social context through the centuries, in the single best reference for the general reader. [PKM]

More on Bold Robin

Robin Hood: The Early Poems, selected studies by Thomas H. Ohlgren, at Purdue.
Childe Hood: The Infantilization of Medieval Legend by Julie Nelson Couch [PDF Format], from In Parentheses: Papers in Medieval Studies at York University.
Robin Hood: Bold Outlaw of Barnsdale and Sherwood, a new site from Allen W. Wright, part of the Robin of Sherwood Webring. New URL.
Amy Van Orden's Robin Hood Homepage features an extensive list of Robin Hood links.

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5 May 2005