Robin Hood is a legend that has touched the hearts of people for generations. Despite all the different stories and adaptations, he always remains a hero and defender of justice. Here you can learn a little about the history of the legend of Robin Hood through the ballads and role of the May Games. However it is impossible to display all the historical works on Robin Hood all in one place. This is therefore also a place of reference, where you can find a list of academic studies and websites on the legend as well as the different versions of Robin Hood that have been created.
For the best information on Robin Hood, The Robin Hood Project by the University of Rochester provides a brilliant place for finding out about all things Robin Hood.
The earliest written record of Robin Hood derives from a collection of ballads written in either the 15th or early 16th century. Although later ballads also exist, introducing many familiar characters, they are not the earliest written record of the legend of Robin Hood.
For a collection of the ballads see:
Robin Hood and Other Outlaw Tales ed. by Stephen Knight and Thomas Ohlgren ~ 1997
Click on the title for access to the book on the University of Rochester website. It includes all the ballads, tales and plays to do with the legend of Robin Hood. Each ballad has an introduction of analysis as well as the text itself.
Robin Hood and the Monk
Robin Hood and the Potter
A Gest of Robyn Hood
Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne
Robin Hood and the Curtail Friar
The Jolly Pinder of Wakefield
Robin Hood and Little John
Robin Hood and Allin a Dale
Robin Hood and Maid Marian
Robin Hood and Will Scarlet
Robin Hood’s Progress to Nottingham
Robin Hood Rescues Three Young Men
Little John a Begging
Robin Hood’s Breeding, Valour and Marriage
Robin Hood and the Golden Arrow
Robin Hood and the Bishop
Robin Hood’s Golden Prize
Robin Hood and Queen Catherin
Robin Hood’s Fishing
The Death of Robin Hood
A True Tale of Robin Hood
Robin Hood and the Pedlars
The legend of Robin Hood has changed significantly through the centuries as seen through some of the more obscure later ballads such as Robin Hood’s Fishing. People were clearly inspired by the stories and added their own twist to the tale such as adding local geography of their area to the tale. A good example would be the two plays by Anthony Munday written in 1598: The Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntingdon and The Death of Robert, Earle of Huntingdon. These were the first stories to make Robin an earl as well as set the legend during the reign of King Richard I. Changes such as these are not too dissimilar to how the story of Robin Hood is told today. Each story often brings a different element to the legend to make it unique.
Many adaptations have been created to tell a different version of Robin Hood. They are listed below.
- Robin Hood (1912)
- Robin Hood (1922)
- The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
- The Bandit of Sherwood Forest (1946)
- The Prince of Thieves (1948)
- Rogues of Sherwood Forest (1950)
- Tales of Robin Hood (1951)
- The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men (1952)
- The Men of Sherwood Forest (1954)
- Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960)
- A Challenge for Robin Hood (1967)
- The Scalawag Bunch (1971)
- Wolfshead: The Legend of Robin Hood (1973)
- The Arrows of Robin Hood (1975)
- Robin and Marian (1976)
- Robin Hood (1991)
- Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
- Robin Hood (2010)
- Robin Hood (2018)
- Robin Hood (1953)
- The Adventures of Robin Hood (1955)
- The Legend of Robin Hood (1968)
- The Legend of Robin Hood (1975)
- Robin of Sherwood (1984)
- The New Adventures of Robin Hood (1997)
- Robin Hood (2006)
- The Adventures of Robin Hood (1956)
- The Once and Future King (1958)
- The Outlaws of Sherwood (1988)
- Outlaw (2009) ~ (First of an eight book series. The other seven books are listed below, going up to 2016).
- Holy Warrior (2010)
- King’s Man (2011)
- Warlord (2012)
- Grail Knight (2013)
- The Iron Castle (2014)
- The King’s Assassin (2015)
- The Death of Robin Hood (2016)
In Our Time, BBC Radio 4 ~ Robin Hood
Great Lives, BBC Radio 4 ~ Robin Hood
The May Games
The May Games became intertwined with the legend of Robin Hood by the early 15th century. People dressed up as Robin Hood and it was from the May Games that Maid Marian and Friar Tuck were introduced.
You can read more about Robin Hood and the May Games here.
There have been some great studies on the legend of Robin Hood. For further reading, see the list below.
–Robin Hood by J. C. Holt ~ 1989
–Robin Hood : A Complete Study of the English Outlaw by Stephen Knight ~ 1994
–Robin Hood: A Mythic Biography by Stephen Knight ~ 2003
–Robin Hood: A True Legend by Sean McGlynn ~ 2018