I originally wrote Wolfshead Through the Ages: The History of Robin Hood in 1997, and it is still a work in progress. That doesn't mean it's not complete. It means that the Robin Hood legend continues to change. New books, films and scholarly articles are coming out every year. And I will update this site accordingly.
Over the years, I've read dozens of books, seen dozens of films and TV shows. And I'm sure I've picked up the stray thought from all of them. I might not be able to catalogue all my influences, but this page is my attempt to give credit where it's due. I have also provided links to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.ca so that you can order these books. (While some of these books are reasonably priced for the general consumer, some books are priced more for academic libraries. Even I don't own everything on this page.)
The General section lists sources that have been helpful for many parts of the literary history. I have listed additional sources under the appropriate sections.
When I began this site in 1997, there were three sources that inspired the bulk of the original Wolfshead Through the Ages: The History of Robin Hood articles. They are:
HOOD , revised edition by J. C. Holt. London: Thames and Hudson, 1989.
In the 1980s and early 1990s, this was considered
the definitive work on Robin Hood. Although it focuses
mainly on the medieval side of the legend, it's still worth
a look. Update: A newly-revised "Third Edition" was released in 2011, although the changes were minimal.
OF ROBYN HOOD; AN INTRODUCTION TO THE ENGLISH OUTLAW
by R.B. Dobson and J. Taylor. Gloucester, UK: Alan Sutton,
1989. Originally published by Heinemann in 1976, this
is a classic collection of ballads and poems with a wonderful
historical introduction. A new edition was released in 1997
with an updated foreword.
Hood: A Complete Study of the English Outlaw by Stephen Knight.
Oxford, UK and Cambridge, USA: Blackwell, 1994. This
is as close to definitive book on the legend as you're likely to find. It provides the
most comprehensive look at changes to the Robin Hood legend.
It's most valuable for its coverage of the later legend. The book takes a social-culture view, and sometimes the language can be very lit-crit. An
interview with Professor Knight is available on my website. Most references to Stephen Knight's work on this page are to this book.
The book is out of print, but he has a new book.
ROBIN HOOD: A MYTHIC BIOGRAPHY by
Stephen Knight. Cornell University Press, 2003. Although published after my site was largely written, this book repeats many arguments from his former book. (But it is more affordable than his out-of-print earlier work.) It divides Robin's legendary persona into four archetypes. This is largely
enjoyable. Stephen Knight likes to challenge traditionally assumptions about the legend. That can be useful, but he's sometimes given to overstatements.
In late 1997, I attended the first international academic conference for Robin Hood Studies. What I learned there helped with some early re-writes and additions to these pages. The 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2008 conferences have also generated papers that lead to some re-writes.
IN POPULAR CULTURE; VIOLENCE, TRANSGRESSION, AND CULTURE,
edited by Thomas Hahn. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 2000. This book collects the papers from
the first International Conference for Robin Hood Studies,
held in 1997. They include
plenary addresses by Stephen Knight and Barrie Dobson, as well
as a very important paper by Thomas Ohlgren. The book covers Robin
Hood ballads, poems, novels, theatre, television, film and more. I will cite the various articles in the appropriate sections.
HOOD AND OTHER OUTLAW TALES edited by Stephen Knight
and Thomas Ohlgren. Kalamazoo, Michigan: TEAMS - Medieval Institute Publications, 1997. It's a whopping 700 pages filled with ballads,
plays, and historical background. Much of this book is
online at The Robin Hood
Project at the University of Rochester.
HOOD: AN ANTHOLOGY OF SCHOLARSHIP AND CRITICISM edited by Stephen Knight. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1999. This large tome collects and reprints several useful and important articles. Most relevant for the study of real Robin Hoods are "Robin Hood" by Joseph Hunter (the 1852 article which explores the Robin Hood of the 1320s), "The Birth and Setting of the Ballads" by J.R. Maddicott, "Ballads and Bandits: Fourteenth Century Outlaws and the Robin Hood Poems" by Barbara A. Hanawalt and "Some Further Evidence Concerning the Dating of the Origins of the Legend of Robin Hood" by David Crook (which covers the various Robin Hood surnames). I will cite more articles under the appropriate sections.
And as I said in my Introduction The Robin Hood Project at the University of Rochester is a fantastic resource. Once again, I'd like to thank Alan Lupack for letting me make so many links to his site.
P.S.: A lot of this section was written in 1997 and 1998, with occasional updates. It seems to me a book from 2011 which I shall not name suspiciously covers much the same ground. This book was not a source for this website.
THE OUTLAWS OF MEDIEVAL LEGEND by Maurice Keen. London: Routledge, 2000. First published in 1961, this is a classic study of Robin Hood and other medieval outlaws. Originally, Keen supported the idea that Robin Hood legend was inspired by the political sentiment behind the Peasants' Revolt. He has since changed his mind and the updated introduction features Keen's thoughts on more recent Robin Hood scholarship.
IMAGINING ROBIN HOOD: THE LATE MEDIEVAL STORIES IN HISTORICAL CONTEXT by A.J. Pollard. Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2004. (Paperback 2007). The book provides an extremely lucid look at the earliest ballads in the light of the time they were likely composed. His suggestion that as a "yeoman of the forest" Robin Hood was meant to be a forester is interesting.
OUTLAWS: TWELVE TALES IN MODERN ENGLISH TRANSLATION edited by Thomas H. Ohlgren. West LaFayette: Parlor Press, 2005. (Original edition: Gloucestershire: Sutton Publications, 1998.) This book includes
translations of the outlaw adventures of Fulk Fitz Warin,
William (Braveheart) Wallace, Adam Bell and others, including
A Gest of Robyn Hode. It helps show how much of the Robin Hood legend is borrowed from other outlaw legends.(Updated from the earlier edition which only featured ten tales. The new cover, not pictured here, features a photo I took - the same one that forms the graphic in the top left corner of this page.)
Tom Ohlgren's articles are among the most insightful and probing of modern Robin Hood scholarship. He allowed me to view a copy of "The 'Marchaunt' of Sherwood: Mercantile Ideology in A Gest of Robyn Hode" which was presented at the 1997 conference and was later collected in Robin Hood in Popular Culture, edited by Thomas Hahn. A revised version of this, along with other articles are available in the book below.
ROBIN HOOD: THE EARLY POEMS, 1465 - 1560, Texts, Contexts, and Ideology by Thomas H. Ohlgren. Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2007. This book explores the earliest ballads in great detail. Tom Ohlgren identifies probable owners (and scribes) for the surviving manuscripts of Robin Hood and the Monk and Robin Hood and the Potter showing insight on why the ballads may have appealed to them. Other articles examine the different printed editions of the Gest and the ballad's mercantile ideology. Highly recommended for those interested in more advanced studies of the early legend.
Another helpful article from Robin Hood in Popular Culture is "Longbow Archery and the Earliest Robin Hood Legends" by Kelly DeVries on pages 41-60. And if you're interested in finding homo-erotic themes in the early legend, then "Horseplay: Robin Hood, Guy of Gisborne, and the Neg(oti)ation of the Bestial" by Stuart Kane is for you (Hahn, pp. 101-110).
Various articles in Robin Hood: An Anthology of Scholarship and Criticism", edited by Stephen Knight were also helpful. These include "Ballads and Bandits: Fourteenth Century Outlaws and the Robin Hood Poems" by Barbara A. Hanawalt (pp. 263-284, reprinting her 1992 article from Chaucer's England).
In 2009, Dr. Julian M. Luxford published an article on an overlooked English reference - "An English Chronicle Entry on Robin Hood" in Journal of Medieval History Volume 35, Issue 1, March 2009, Pages 70-76. An online copy can be found here.
THE EARLY PLAYS OF ROBIN HOOD by David Wiles. Cambridge: D.S. Brewer, 1981. Currently out of print, this book provides a good overview and analysis of the May Games. The chapters Robin Hood as Summer Lord I & II are reprinted in Robin Hood: An Anthology of Scholarship and Criticism, edited by Stephen Knight.
ROBIN HOOD: THE SHAPING OF THE LEGEND by Jeffrey L. Singman. Greenwood Press, 1998. A good study of the legend, particularly for its recent information on the Robin Hood Games. Helpful appendices include listing of all Robin Hood Games references and the contemporary reports surrounding the Edinburgh riot.
"Lords of the Wildwood: The Wild Man, the Green Man, and Robin Hood" by Lorraine Kochanske Stock in Robin Hood in Popular Culture (edited by Thomas Hahn), p.239-250 provides some useful information.
There have been several reconstructions of the 1475 "dramatic fragment": they appear in Dobson and Taylor, Knight and Ohlgren and Wiles. Also, "Playing the Game: Reconstructing Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham" by John Marshall in Hahn, pp. 161-174 reconstructs the play and discusses the various approaches.
Some of the Elizabethan plays can be found online at The Robin Hood Project at the University of Rochester.
LIBERTY AGAINST THE LAW: SOME SEVENTEENTH-CENTURY CONTROVERSIES by Christopher Hill. Harmondsworth: Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 1996. A noted left-wing historian examines the concepts of liberty and legality in the 17th century, in history and the arts. The book includes a chapter on Robin Hood. Most of the Robin Hood material is reprinted in Robin Hood: An Anthology of Scholarship and Criticism (pp.285-296).
REVEL, RIOT AND REBELLION by David Underdown. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987. This book examines the politics and pop culture of 17th century England, and includes references to the political party "the Robins".
The best-known ballad collection is The English and Scottish Popular Ballads by Francis Child, published between 1892-1898. There is a five-volume printing and a ten-volume printing of this series. Most Robin Hood ballads can be found in vol. III (of V), although there are few like "Erlinton" (aka Robin Hood and the Shepherd's Daughter), "Willie and Earl Richard's Daughter" (aka "The Birth of Robin Hood) and "Rose the Red and White Lily" (aka "The Marriage of Robin Hood and Little John") that are included in the earlier volumes, because F.J. Child didn't feel they were properly part of the Robin Hood tradition.
An important supplement is The Traditional Tunes of the Child Ballads by Bertrand Harris Bronson, vol. III. This provides tunes, including some North American variations.
HOOD : THE FORRESTERS MANUSCRIPT : BRITISH LIBRARY ADDITIONAL
MS 71158, edited by Stephen Knight. The manuscript
of this previously unpublished 17th century ballad collection
was discovered in a 1993 booksale -- a major find for Robin
Hood scholarship. Stephen Knight adds notes to all the ballads.
Two good sources for Canadian versions of the ballads are:
Traditional Songs from Nova Scotia by Helen Creighton and Doreen H. Senior. Toronto: The Ryerson Press, 1950.
Maritime Folk Songs by Helen Creighton. Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1962.
The Prose Life I mentioned has the full title of:
The whole life, and merry exploits of bold Robin Hood, Earl of Huntington : shewing how he became an out-law, and fled to the forest of Sherwood; where he and his gang shelter'd themselves for many years, committing many notorious villanies and robberies, insomuch that all passengers were forc'd to pay them tribute : and at last betook himself to a monastery in Yorkshire, where he was bled to death by a monk : to which is added, several songs not in the former impressions : with The whole history of Johnny Armstrong, of Westmoreland.
There is an edition of it housed in the Osborne Collection at the Toronto Public Library.
MYTH AND NATIONAL IDENTITY IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY BRITAIN: The Legends of King Arthur and Robin Hood by Stephanie L. Barczewski. Oxford University Press, 2000. A very good analysis of the legend in the 19th century, including how the Normans vs. Saxons motif was used to justify British "racialism".
"Robin Hood in Boys' Weeklies to 1914" by Kevin Carpenter. This paper was delivered at the 1999 Robin Hood conference, and Dr. Carpenter graciously sent me a copy.
MYTH AND NATIONAL IDENTITY IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY BRITAIN: The Legends of King Arthur and Robin Hood by Stephanie L. Barczewski. Oxford University Press, 2000. A very good analysis of the legend in the 19th century. It explores how the Norman vs. Saxons motif in the legend reflected 19th century racial attitudes. She also deals with themes such as imperialism and the women's movement and how they affected Victorian versions of the tales.
Another helpful resource for this section in "Robin Hood Musicals in Eighteenth-Century London" by Linda V. Troost in Robin Hood in Popular Culture, pp.251-264.
I consulted the original reviews for De Koven and Smith's operetta. Those include The New York Times on Sept. 29, 1891 (p. 4) and for the last big revival, Nov. 8, 1994 (p. 28). The Times of London notice appeared on Feb. 7, 1891 - one day after Sullivan's Ivanhoe got its second notice. Also, librettist Harry B. Smith's autobiography First Nights and First Editions talks a great deal about the crafting of this musical.
My impression of this operetta comes from listing to a recording of the score and seeing some songs performed at the 1997 Robin Hood academic conference in Rochester, NY.
I have also listened to the cast album to Twang!!, and well ... I think there's a reason why it failed. It is sort of amusing in its awfulness, but the music refuses to leave my head. In the case of Twang!, that's a bad thing.
Another good source is the article "Robin Hood on the Screen" by Jeffrey Richards, which can be found in Robin Hood: An Anthology of Scholarship and Criticism, pp.429-440. [There have been several versions of this article, one formed a chapter of his 1977 book, Swordsmen of the Screen.]
Also of interest is Rudy Behlmer's introduction in the published screenplay of the 1938 film The Adventures of Robin Hood. Behlmer covers not only the development process of this film, but looks at the earlier and later Robin Hood films too. The reference to a rival 1908 American Robin Hood film comes from his book.. (University
of Wisconsin Press, 1979.) This book includes the script, including
scenes and stills cut from the movie.
Scott Allen Nollen's Robin Hood: A Cinematic History of the English Outlaw and His Scottish Counterparts (first published in 1999 and later republished in 2008) apparently gives a good overview of the film and television versions. As of February 2015, I have not read the book in full to confirm, but checked some online preview sections while revising the section of silent films. I agree with his assertion that films borrowed from the DeKoven/Smith comic opera but it seems to me that Kinemacolor's Robin Hood might owe more to Egan/Dumas than Howard Pyle, which is Nollen's suggested source. I will have to order a copy of the book and would be remiss not to mention it here.
If you are interested in purchasing modern Robin Hood novels, films or TV shows, please check out my Recommended Reading and Viewing page.
As a lifelong comics collector, much of the information came right out of my own collection.
For the 1998 SEMA conference and heavily revised for the 1999 Robin Hood Conference in Nottingham, I delivered a paper called "'Begone, Knave! Robbery is out of fashion hereabouts!': Robin Hood and the Comics Code" which examined how Robin Hood comic books functioned in the 1950s, a time of censorship. That article was eventually published in Bandit Territories.
BANDIT TERRITORIES: BRITISH OUTLAWS AND THEIR TRADITIONS,
edited by Helen Phillips. In addition to my (Allen W. Wright - although the book misspells my first name) article on Robin Hood comic books, there are articles from Helen Phillips, Stephen Knight, Thomas Hahn, Jeffrey Richards, Laura Blunk, Marcus Smith and the late Julian Wasserman. Topics include Robin Hood in film and television, gay themes in the Robin Hood legend, 1950s Robin Hood comic books, other outlaws such as Fouke fitz Waryn and Owain Glyndwr, 19th century literature and the Scottish Robin Hood.
Some information for that paper came from "Seven Robins!" from the Nolan's Notebook column in the May 1998 issue of Comic Book Marketplace. It gave me a nudge in the right direction.
The writings of Kevin Carpenter helped me track down some British Robin Hood comics. Also useful were two books by Denis Gifford: The Encyclopedia of Comic Characters (Longman, 1986) and The Complete Catalogue of British Comics (Webber & Brown, 1985).
Again, most of my Green Arrow knowledge comes from personal experience. But "Robin Hood and Green Arrow: Outlaw Bowmen in the Modern Urban Lanscape" by Sarah Beach can be found in Robin Hood in Popular Culture, pp. 21-28.
Also, I would highly recommend the Green Arrow Fansite. Co-author Scott McCullar has worked as a continuity advisor for the comic book.
(I probably should stop revising the article every time they change Green Arrow or Hawkeye's status quo. But it does give a correct sense of the absurdity of it all.)
I have consulted the newspaper archives to follow the "Robin Hood and Company" strip. A history of the strip and the wartime Canadian comic book industry can be found in "The War Years: Anglo-American Publishing Ltd." by Robert MacMillan, published in Canuck Comics edited by John Bell, Montreal: Matrix Books, 1986. Thanks to Mark Shainblum for sending me a copy.
For modern news and legal references to the Robin Hood legend no one was better than Marcus A.J. Smith and the late (and sorely missed) Julian N. Wasserman. Their article "In the Sheriff's Court: Robin Hood and American Jurisprudence, Or, Who is This Robin Hood and Why Are All Those Lawyers Saying Such Nasty Things about Him?" appears in Robin Hood in Popular Culture, pp.225-238. They also presented a paper on modern Robin Hood references at the conference held in London, Ont. in 2001.
Amazon does give me a slight referral bonus on the items purchased from this page. This doesn't increase the price of the products, but does help to support this site.
Text copyright, © Allen W. Wright, 1997 - 2010.