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  • Susan Stoderl

From Medieval Legend to Middle-Grade Books | Tales of Robin Hood


Characters of Robin Hood
Lithography with stencil coloring. "Webb’s Scenes & Characters in Robin Hood”, London, circa 1850

Robin Hood, the legendary outlaw hero of medieval English ballads can be found as early as the 14th century. The authenticated three are "Robin Hood and the Monk," "Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne," "Robin Hood and the Potter," and the "Lytyll Geste of Robin Hode." The early ballads demonstrate the cruelty common in medieval life under the agrarian tyranny of serfdom. The tales appealed to common people who had no redress against their horrendous lives under the landowners.


Three popular writers of Robin Hood tales were popular during the 19th century—one French and two Americans. Alexandre Dumas, Père (1802–1870) wrote The Prince of Thieves (Le Prince des voleurs), which was published in 1872, posthumously. Howard Pyle (1853–1911), a Wilmington, Delaware native, was an illustrator, painter, and author. In 1883 he published The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. J. Walker McSpadden (1874—1960), who was from New Jersey, published Robin Hood in 1891.


Writers of Robin Hood tales in the 20th century include Roger Lancelyn Green (1918–1987), an Oxford academic member of the Inklings literary discussion group. Two other members were C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. It was Green who persuaded C.S. Lewis to publish The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Green published The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1956. Another British writer, Angus Donald (b. 1965), wrote a series of nine Robin Hood and Richard the Lionheart books entitled The Outlaw Chronicles.


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