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WOLFSHEAD THROUGH THE AGES -- The History of Robin Hood


Louis Rhead's wonderful illustration of Robin Hood, courtesy the RH project.The great strength of the Robin Hood legend is its ability to change with the times. I'm certainly not alone in this opinion. Virtually every Robin Hood scholar I've read has talked about the character's flexibility. Robin Hood finds a way to make himself relevant to every generation. He is, at the same time, a completely new character and one steeped in tradition.

Some people think there's one true version of the legend. I've read movie reviews that complained about how Robin's history in Prince of Thieves was different than the history in the storybook that they read as a kid. Well, the history in that book would have been different than older Robin Hood stories. And yet, I don't think modern versions are any less legitimate than medieval ones. (Although, as you can see, there are some modern versions I'm not personally fond of.)

If Robin Hood stayed exactly like he was in the beginning, there's an excellent chance we'd never have heard of the character. Robin survived Renaissance drama by being an earl. He made it big in the 19th century as a Saxon freedom fighter. He tapped into new age mysticism with Robin of Sherwood.

He fit into the American mainstream in Prince of Thieves. Robin Hood has always been a hero of popular culture. He would not have been if he remained static.

So, above all, this website of mine is here to celebrate the great diversity of Robin Hood. Robin Hood has been played by Errol Flynn, Kevin Costner, Daffy Duck and Henry VIII. Now that's variety for you.

Where to go from here:


Sources and Further Reading:

Click here to view the sources used to write Wolfshead through the Ages: The History of Robin Hood.

Text copyright, © Allen W. Wright, 1997 - 2010.