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Movie poster for the 1922 United Artists Robin Hood film, starring Douglas Fairbanks.

The folkloric hero Robin Hood has appeared many times, in many different variations, in popular modern works.



Robin Hood has appeared in a number of plays throughout the medieval, early modern and modern periods. The first record of a Robin Hood play being performed is in Exeter in 1426-27.[1] The earliest surviving text of a Robin Hood play is dated c.1475 and entitled Robyn Hod and the Shryff off Notyngham.[2][3]

The plays which perhaps have been most influential upon the Robin Hood legend as a whole are Anthony Munday's The Downfall of Robert, Earle of Huntington and The Death of Robert, Earle of Huntingdon (1597–98). It is in these plays that Robin is first depicted as a nobleman. Further plays followed during the early modern period such as the anonymous Looke About You (1600) and Robin Hood and his Crew of Soldiers (1661).


The first published prose account of Robin Hood's life appears to be the anonymously authored The Noble Birth and Gallant Atchievements of that Remarkable Out-Law, Robin Hood (1678). Material from this work was often plagiarised by criminal biographers in works such as: The Whole Life and Merry Exploits of Bold Robin Hood (1712), Alexander Smith's A Complete History of the Lives and Robberies of the Most Notorious Highwaymen, Footpads, Shoplifts and Cheats (1719), Charles Johnson's Lives and Exploits of the Most Noted Highwaymen (1734).[4] In addition, there were numerous books printed throughout the late seventeenth and eigheenth centuries that went by the name of Robin Hood's Garland. These were cheaply printed collections of later Robin Hood ballads.

The first Robin Hood novel written, although not published, is Robert Southey's 'Harold, or, The Castle of Morford' (1791).[5][6] This exists in manuscript form in the Bodleian Library. The first published Robin Hood novel was the anonymous Robin Hood: A Tale of the Olden Time (1819), and a few months later Ivanhoe by Walter Scott, 1819. Ivanhoe was Scott's first novel where history and romance is combined. Robin Hood in this book is the saviour of the nation. The Upper classes need the working classes as much as the working classes rely on their 'betters'.[7] Scott's tale is significant because it is the first time that Robin is presented as an Anglo-Saxon freedom fighter, a theme which many later Victorian Robin Hood novels would utilise. The next novel following Scott was Thomas Love Peacock's novella Maid Marian. The novel was originally intended as a satire on continental conservatism and its enthusiasm for all things feudal and medieval, and in particular the unwarranted praise of aristocracy. Thus through his novella Peacock attempted to show how man’s feudal overlords have always been the same: greedy, violent, cynical, and self-interested.[8] Robin also appears as the principal protagonist of two tales printed in an early penny blood entitled Lives of the Highwaymen in 1836. This serialised tale, however, is little more than a reprint of the earlier biography of Robin Hood that appeared in Charles Johnson's work. In Thomas Miller's Royston Gower; or, The Days of King John (1838), Robin is not the principal protagonist but is an outlaw who comes to the aid of the title character after he defects from the Normans and decides to fight against King John for the establishment of a 'charter of rights'. G. P. R. James' Forest Days (1843), while not intended as a political or social commentary, is significant because it abandons the traditional dating of the Robin Hood story in the 1190s and instead places the Robin Hood legend during the Simon de Montfort rebellion (1264-67). By far the longest Robin Hood novel, standing at almost half-a-million words, is Pierce Egan the Younger's Robin Hood and Little John; or, The Merrie Men of Sherwood Forest (serialised 1838-1840). As in Ivanhoe, Robin is a Saxon, although he is not actually outlawed in the novel until nearly the end of the first book. The novel traces Robin's life from birth to death. Egan's text was translated into two French books, Le prince des voleurs (The Prince of Thieves), and Robin Hood le proscrit (Robin Hood the Outlaw), by Alexandre Dumas, between 1863–64. Dumas' works were then retranslated back into English by Alfred Allinson in 1904. A 'companion' novel to Egan's text was published by J. H. Stocqueler in 1849 entitled Maid Marian, the Forest Queen; Being a Companion to "Robin Hood". The first Robin Hood novel written specifically for children appears to be Stephen Percy's Tales of Robin Hood (1840). John B. Marsh's children's book Robin Hood appeared in 1865, as did a penny dreadful entitled Little John and Will Scarlet (1865). The next major novel written was entitled The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle in 1883. In T.H. White's novel "The Sword in the Stone" (1938, later incorporated into "The Once and Future King"), young Wart (Arthur) and Kay have an adventure with a man they initially call Robin Hood, but are told that his real name is Robin Wood. His merry men refer to him as "Robin 'ood," dropping Ws instead of Hs, in the Nottinghamshire accent of the time. White's theory is supported by the fact that the French call him Robin Dubois, or Robin of the Wood.

Films and television seriesEdit


Video gamesEdit

The character of Robin Hood appears, either as a playable character or as a major supporting character, in the following games:

Strategy gamesEdit

  • Avalon Hill published a board game based on the legend called The Legend of Robin Hood.

Comic booksEdit

  • As a public domain character with an established reputation, Robin Hood was an attractive feature for comic book publishers from the birth of the medium. The first continuing Robin Hood stories were written and drawn by Sven Elven and appeared in the DC Comics title, New Adventure Comics vol. 1 #23 through #30 (1938). There was also a Robin Hood back up story in Green Hornet #7 through #10, written by S. M. Iger.
  • In 1935, the Toronto Telegram published the newspaper comic strip "Robin Hood and Company" by writer Ted McCall and (initially) artist Charles Snelgrove. It appeared in various other papers, and in 1941 was converted into comic book form by Anglo-American Publishing as one of the first Canadian comic books.[17]
  • A small renaissance of Robin Hood comics occurred in the late 1950s, starting with the little-known "Rodger of Sherwood" stories in the Young Heroes anthology series #39 through #37 by American Comics Group. That same year, Robin got his first title comic book from Magazine Enterprises which ran for eight issues, three with a Richard Greene photo cover. Brown Shoe Co., maker of Robin Hood Shoes, published seven giveaway issues starting in 1956. Robin soon attracted attention from more established comic publishers such as Charlton Comics, who retitled Danger and Adventure to Robin Hood and His Merry Men starting with issue #28. Quality comics published Tales of Robin Hood until issue #7, then was bought by DC Comics who continued until issue #13 and included a crossover with Wonder Woman, making it the longest lasting English language Robin Hood series. DC also published Robin Hood stories in their Brave and the Bold anthology series from #5 to #15.
  • In the 1960s, Dell published a couple of Robin Hood one-shots, one a re-telling of the traditional legend, the other a Disney TV show tie-in. Then, in 1974, Gold Key Comics produced a 7 issue tie-in with the Disney animated film. Eclipse published a three-part miniseries in 1991, perhaps a tie in with the Kevin Costner film. Finally, there have been various one-shots produced by Moonstone Books and Avalon Communications.
  • In 1991, DC produced a series called Outlaws, with writing by Michael Jan Friedman and art by Luke McDonnell. It was a re-imagining of the legend set in a future, somewhat post-apocalyptic, time- something akin to the future depicted in films such as Mad Max.
  • Also in 1991, Eclipse Comics published a three issue mini series.
  • In 1998 Caliber Comics launched a four-issue mini-series about Robin Hood's daughter called "Robyn of Sherwood" by writer Paul D. Storrie and various artists. Many years later the comic was republished with new art by Rob Davis (who had drawn the final issue of the original series.) Storrie also wrote other Robin Hood comics, some adapting the original ballads.
  • Robin Hood and his band appear in one issue of the Vertigo Comics series Fables. Along with other folk heroes, they give their lives to buy time for the last ship to flee to the mundane world.
  • In 2007, Xeric award-winning cartoonist Steve LeCouilliard began a comedy web-comic called "Much the Miller's Son" [2] telling the story of Robin Hood from the point of view of a minor character. It has since been collected in two volumes with a third projected for summer 2011.
  • The superhero Green Arrow possesses obvious traits of inspiration that originate from Robin Hood; most notably being a skilled archer, swordsman, and an affinity for wearing green.
  • The superhero Robin's appearance was modeled after Robin Hood, with his name taken from him as well
  • The Sonic the Hedgehog comic series from Archie Comics features a band of Freedom Fighters based upon Robin Hood and his Merry Men, with associated characters reflecting other figures in the Robin Hood mythos. Robin serves as the inspiration for Hedgehog king Rob O' The Hedge, with an Echidna wife and son named Mari-An and Jon (obviously alluding to Maid Marian and Little John). Further allies include the Deer Friar Buck, Allan Quail, and Munch the Rat; the group was originally pitted against the villainous High Sheriff of Snottingham.
  • In 2012 Zenescope published Robyn Hood, a re-imagining of the character with a female protagonist.
  • In 2013 the Image Comics book Five Ghosts featured a literary ghost with similarities to Robin Hood.



  1. ^ Stephen Knight & Thomas Ohlgren, 'Robyn Hod and the Shryff off Notyngham: Introduction' Robin Hood Project
  2. ^ Cambridge, Trinity College MS R.2.64 (fragment), c. 1475
  3. ^ 'Robyn Hod and the Shryff Notyngham' in Robin Hood Project
  4. ^ Basdeo, Stephen (2016). "'Robin Hood the Brute: Representations of the Outlaw in Eighteenth Century Criminal Biography'". Law, Crime and History. 6: 2: 54–70.
  5. ^ Bodleian MS. Eng. Misc. e. 114
  6. ^ Basdeo, Stephen (18 November 2016). "The First Robin Hood Novel: Robert Southey's "Harold; or, The Castle of Morford" (1791)". Here Begynneth a Lytell Geste of Robin Hood. Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  7. ^ Basdeo, Stephen (2016-02-27). "Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe" (1819)". Here Begynneth A Lytell Geste of Robin Hood... Retrieved 2016-08-03.
  8. ^ Basdeo, Stephen (8 March 2016). "Thomas Love Peacock's "Maid Marian" (1822)". Here Begynneth a Lytell Geste of Robin Hood. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  9. ^ Harrison, John. "Copse and Robbers." The Guardian 2009-06-20 [1] retrieved 2010-02-10
  10. ^ Enduring American Song Hits, Part 1, page 1 at
  11. ^ "Electric Light Orchestra - Telephone Line (Vinyl) at Discogs". Retrieved 27 February 2013
  12. ^ "Robin Hood". Serenbe Playhouse. 2017-06-02. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  13. ^ "Serenbe's ROBIN HOOD to Feature Immersive Sherwood Forest, Zip Line". Broadway World Atlanta. 2017-06-16. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  14. ^ "Robin Hood". Serenbe Playhouse. 2017-02-06. Retrieved 2017-06-20.
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ "CHANGES TO THE LEGEND: Comic Books and Copycats, Robin Hood -- Wolfshead Through the Ages". Retrieved 2015-10-12.
  18. ^ Allegra Frank (27 October 2016). "Pokémon Sun and Moon's newest Pokémon are one-of-a-kind". Polygon. Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  19. ^ Daniel Starkey (28 October 2016). "Check Out Final Forms of Sun and Moon's Starters (plus more Pokemon news)". Retrieved 2 December 2016.
  20. ^ "Robin Hood is scholarly subject". BBC. 10 October 2006.
  21. ^ "Sherwood Signs Off Archived 2008-05-22 at the Wayback Machine". Nottingham Forest 30 July 2007.
  22. ^ "A modern-day Robin Hood". The World, 15 May 2010.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "ShadowWood Preview". Retrieved 2016-10-20.
  25. ^

Further readingEdit