Bold Robin Hood and His Outlaw Band

Author: Louis Rhead  | Date: 1912


IN this version of the Robin Hood tradition I have endeavored to group the various incidents in logical progression, and to connect them as intimately as possible with the customs and manners of the age in which it is supposed he lived- the latter part of the twelfth century. Moreover, I have made character-portraits of all the principals in the legend (not included in the electronic version), paying particular attention to historical accuracy in the matter of dress, arms, and other accessories. It is a singular circumstance that the name of an outlawed individual of the twelfth century should remain as well known as that of Richard the Lion-hearted or the Black Prince; that the echoes of his personality should be preserved in household ballad and fireside tale; that his words and deeds continue to be a familiar part of the Anglo-Saxon heritage- all this is pretty conclusive proof that Robin Hood was an actual living personage. There is nothing mythical about the achievements of the renowned outlaw; and though medieval English historians never mentioned this notable man, it was probably his avowed enmity to churchmen that caused the monks to refrain from rendering homage to his virtues. History, in former times, was written by none but monks.

It is remarkable that one of the best stories of Robin Hood was written and illustrated by an American artist who had never set foot on English soil. In this latter respect I am more fortunate, having been born in the same country as Robin Hood and having passed much of my early life in roaming about what still remains of Sherwood and Needwood forests. I have endeavored to retain the quaint, simple, yet direct style of the ballads, which are surprisingly unaffected and natural in their appeal to the youthful mind. These ballads supply the material for all but three of the twenty-five chapters. The first three chapters are original matter, because no ballad describes and history is silent concerning the childhood and youth of Robin Hood. Most of the earlier versions begin with Robin at his meeting with Little John, when he was a full-fledged outlaw of middle age. Some of the ballads are very ancient- one, in particular, was printed in black letter by Wynken de Worde about 1489, and is now preserved in the public library at Cambridge. Others are of later date, belonging to the time of Henry the Eighth, and none are later than the period of Charles the Second.

The map of Royal hunting forests (not included) is intended to show only those places which are connected with Robin Hood’s life, omitting the New Forest and other local stretches of woodland lying in the south of England. It is stated that England at this period was so covered with woods that a squirrel could hop from tree to tree across the entire country. The great Watling Street and Ermine Street roads, built by the Romans eight hundred years before, were still in fair condition in the time of Robin Hood. This map will doubtless be of greater service to American boys than to their English cousins, for no English boy is ignorant of the whereabouts of Sherwood and Nottingham.

Finally, I have derived Robin Hood’s character and personality from the testimony of the old balladists and strolling minstrels who composed their rimes to be sung to their harps, and who pictured him as the most humane and princely of outlaws. Robin Hood and his merry men were not ordinary cutthroats, but a band of merry fellows without guile, bold and fair in fight, courteous and kind to women and children, bountiful to the poor and needy, and striking hard at cruelty and tyranny in a period when there were few to take the part of the poor and unlettered man. My Robin Hood will be found a brave, virtuous, and tactful leader, who wisely tested in personal combat each new recruit before he was allowed to join the band, and who was loved and revered by all for his many excellent and amiable qualities.


Related Resources

None available for this document.

Download Options

Title: Bold Robin Hood and His Outlaw Band

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options

Title: Bold Robin Hood and His Outlaw Band

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: Louis Rhead, "Author’s Preface," Bold Robin Hood and His Outlaw Band Original Sources, accessed February 27, 2021,

MLA: Rhead, Louis. "Author’s Preface." Bold Robin Hood and His Outlaw Band, Original Sources. 27 Feb. 2021.

Harvard: Rhead, L, 'Author’s Preface' in Bold Robin Hood and His Outlaw Band. Original Sources, retrieved 27 February 2021, from